SINGAPORE: Here’s some good news just in time for the Lunar New Year: Singapore and China agreed on visa-free entry for their citizens on Thursday (Jan 25), reported CCTV, China’s state broadcaster.

The agreement allows citizens to enter without visas for business and vacation trips for as long as 30 days, beginning from Feb 9, the eve of Chinese New Year. Individuals who wish to stay for longer periods must still obtain a visa before entry, as do those whose activities require prior approval.

In early December, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced that the agreement was under way, noting that flights between Singapore and China are now nearly at the level before the pandemic as relations have progressed.

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At present, Singaporeans may visit China for 15 days without a visa. Chinese citizens, however, are required to apply for a visa to visit Singapore.

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The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) issued a statement on Jan 25, saying that people who have already submitted an application for a visa will not receive a refund of the visa processing fee. ICA wrote that the reciprocal visa exemption arrangement had been announced at the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation on Dec 7, 2023, and was subsequently affirmed through an exchange of diplomatic notes between Singapore and the China.

“Under long-standing agreements, holders of diplomatic, public affairs and service passports issued by the PRC are exempted from visa requirements for a stay of up to 30 days in Singapore,” ICA added.

Photos of the agreement signing were posted on the Facebook page of the Singapore Embassy in Beijing on Jan 25.

“The Singapore Embassy in Beijing is pleased to announce that the mutual 30-day visa exemption agreement between Singapore and China will come into effect on 9 February 2024. This will provide greater convenience to citizens of Singapore and China travelling to each other’s country for business and leisure.

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It will also strengthen our people-to-people ties, promote mutual understanding, and bring about greater economic opportunities for Singapore and Singaporeans. Looking forward to more business travel, tourism, and exchanges between our two countries!”

In early December, the Monetary Authority of Singapore had said that MAS and the People’s Bank of China were working on a pilot programme for travellers from China and Singapore to use China’s e-CNY digital currency in the two countries.

“The 30-day mutual visa exemption arrangement between our two countries will also support such progress, which can promote more personnel exchanges and strengthen the cornerstone of bilateral relations,” said DPM Wong. /TISG

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