- Foreigners receiving China-made doses face less visa paperwork
- Rule comes as China promotes vaccines amid western competition
China has simplified the visa policy for foreigners applying to enter the Chinese mainland via Hong Kong who have received China-produced COVID-19 vaccines, which experts said shows the authorities’ confidence in the efficacy and safety of the vaccines and will facilitate personnel exchanges.
The China-made vaccine is becoming the ticket to enter the mainland.
China said it will ease visa application requirements for foreigners seeking to enter the mainland from Hong Kong if they have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines made in China.
The new rule will take effect on Monday to resume “people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner,” according to a government announcement Friday.
Foreigners visiting the mainland for work will face less paperwork in visa applications if they are able to show they have received vaccines produced in China. With the vaccine certificates, these travelers will also be able to skip the requirement for a Covid-19 test or fill out a travel declaration form.
The rule also expands the scope of applicants eligible for a visa due to humanitarian needs, such as taking care of family or attending funerals, if they have received Chinese vaccines. Other applicants should still follow the earlier visa procedure, according to the statement.
The change comes as China has been promoting its home-grown shots globally amid competition from western vaccines. It recently entered a deal with the International Olympic Committee to provide shots made in China for athletes attending the Tokyo Olympics in July and Winter Olympics in Beijing next year.
Most countries in the West have not yet approved vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutic companies, which have been reticent in sharing details of their vaccine trials crucial for building public trust around the world. China is having more success introducing its vaccines in Africa and Latin America, where countries including Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea have received vaccine aid from Beijing.
The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the HKSAR said on Friday it will simplify required documents for visa applicants who have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained the vaccination certificate from next Monday.
Under the new regulation, the above-mentioned foreign nationals and their family members visiting the Chinese mainland for resuming work and production in various fields need only to provide documents required before the epidemic, the office said in a statement.
Invitation letters issued by provincial departments or central state-owned enterprises are no longer necessary.
The office will also expand the scope of applicants eligible for applying for a visa out of emergency humanitarian needs to cover more family members of Chinese citizens or permanent residents of China, including spouse, parents, children and other close relatives.
Holders of valid APEC business travel cards may apply for the M visa by presenting the original valid APEC business travel card and the invitation letter issued by the inviting party in the mainland, the office said.
The office noted that the visa facilitation above applies only to applicants who have been inoculated with Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, either having received two doses with the stipulated gap in between or having received a single-dose vaccine at least 14 days prior to the application, and have obtained the vaccination certificate.
A proof of a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test result and the Health and Travel Record Declaration Form for Visa Application are no longer required, the office said.