International Asia China creaks open door to more foreigners

China creaks open door to more foreigners

The country has gradually allowed more foreigners to enter after an abrupt ban on all foreign nationals, including those with Chinese work or residence permits, announced in March to fight the pandemic.

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China on Wednesday eased entry restrictions for foreigners holding certain residence permits, an incremental step towards reopening borders closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The country has gradually allowed more foreigners to enter after an abrupt ban on all foreign nationals, including those with Chinese work or residence permits, announced in March to fight the pandemic.

Foreigners who have residence permits tied to employment, as well as permits for two types of family reunions may now re-enter the country without applying for new documents, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

But all entrants “must strictly abide by China’s anti-epidemic management regulations,” it said.

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That means being subject to COVID-19 tests and a 14-day quarantine.

People keen to return will also need to find a plane ticket, after Beijing ordered a drastic reduction in international flights at the end of March, and prices soared.

In August, China allowed foreign nationals from 36 European countries to re-apply for visas without a previously required and rarely issued invitation letter.

Before that, China opened its borders to a slow stream of skilled foreign workers under special fast-track agreements signed with a small number of countries.

China has largely controlled the spread of the virus, which first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

Despite several small outbreaks during the summer, most cases reported in the country in recent weeks have been travellers entering from abroad.

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