China Offers Visa-Free Entry to Boost Tourism from European Nations and Malaysia
China Offers Visa-Free Entry to Boost Tourism from European Nations and Malaysia

China has initiated a visa-free entry offer for citizens from several European nations and Malaysia in a concerted effort to stimulate post-pandemic tourism. According to Reuters' report on November 27, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia will temporarily enjoy exemption from visa requirements when visiting China, effective from December 1 to November 30 of the following year.

The temporary visa waiver extends to citizens of these six countries traveling to China for purposes such as business, tourism, visiting family or friends, or transiting, for a period not exceeding 15 days. This initiative comes as part of China's concerted efforts to resuscitate its tourism sector, which has grappled with stringent COVID-19 measures, including border closures over the past three years.

This strategic move by the Chinese government seeks to refurbish its global image, which has faced strains due to confrontations with Western nations on various issues encompassing COVID-19, human rights, Taiwan, and trade. Recent surveys, such as the Pew Research Center's study across 24 countries, indicate a predominantly negative perception of China, with 67 percent of adults expressing unfavorable views.

A significant portion of respondents highlighted concerns over China's alleged interference in other countries' affairs and its perceived disregard for the interests of others. Patricia Flor, Germany's ambassador to China, lauded this decision, stating that it would greatly facilitate travel for German citizens to China. She expressed hope for the extension of these measures to encompass all European Union (EU) member states.

Flor also emphasized that reciprocal visa-free travel for Chinese nationals to Germany would necessitate approval from all participants within the European Schengen Agreement. Additionally, the head of foreign trade at the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) hailed the temporary visa exemption as a pivotal gesture that could substantially enhance both tourism and economic exchanges between China and the participating nations.

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