China is testing visa-free travel for citizens hailing from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia, as announced by its foreign ministry.
Starting from December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024, individuals holding ordinary passports from these nations can engage in business or leisure travel in China for up to 15 days without the need for a visa.
The initiative aims to “promote China’s high-quality development and opening up,” according to spokeswoman Mao Ning’s statement on Friday. Currently, the majority of travelers to China are required to obtain a visa for entry.
This exemption is a rare occurrence, with Singapore and Brunei citizens being exceptions, allowed visa-free entry for business, tourism, family visits, and transit for a maximum of 15 days.
It’s noteworthy that as of March 2023, China resumed issuing all types of visas, marking a significant shift from March 2020 when strict travel restrictions were imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. China had some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 measures for three years, including travel restrictions, lockdowns, and frequent testing requirements.
The country’s zero-COVID policy, which had substantial economic implications, was lifted in December of the previous year. Prior to the pandemic, China attracted tens of millions of international visitors annually.