In a move aimed at revitalizing its travel and tourism industry, the Chinese authorities have announced that citizens from five European Union countries—France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain—will be exempt from visa requirements. Starting from December 1, 2023, individuals from these countries entering China for tourism, business, family visits, or transiting for up to 15 days will not need to apply for a visa, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning.
"To further facilitate cross-border travel and China’s high-quality development and high-standard opening up, China has decided to apply unilateral visa-free policy to more countries on a trial basis, which involves extending visa-free treatment to travelers holding ordinary passports from six countries, namely France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia." - Mao Ning
Despite the exemption being described as a "trial basis," the visa-free travel will be in effect until November 30, 2024, providing a temporary reprieve from visa requirements. This move is seen as part of China's broader strategy to support its travel and tourism sector, which has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
Germany’s ambassador to China, Patricia Flor, welcomed the decision, expressing optimism about the facilitation of travel for German citizens. She emphasized the potential positive impact on both countries and hoped for the extension of visa-free travel to all EU member states.
"We hope that the Chinese government will implement the measures announced today for all EU member states. This would be an important improvement in our citizens’ mobility, enabling deeper personal, cultural, and economic relations between China and the EU." - Ambassador Patricia Flor
France's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, also lauded the decision, describing it as excellent news. The European Chamber of Commerce in China joined in the appreciation, stating that visa-free travel would contribute to boosting business confidence.
China aims to further promote tourism in the coming year and plans to open up to more countries, demonstrating a commitment to international cooperation and economic recovery. The move aligns with the country's strategy to foster stronger ties with the European Union and stimulate cross-border exchanges.
The decision to permit visa-free travel is a significant step toward reinvigorating the travel industry, fostering economic relations, and encouraging international cooperation amid ongoing global challenges.
By fLEXI tEAM