|Foreigners who are inoculated with China-made vaccines can enter the Chinese Mainland. Photo: The Japan Times|
China raised the stakes in the international vaccine competition on Saturday, saying that foreigners wishing to enter the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong will face fewer paperwork requirements if they are inoculated with Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines, according to NYT.
China issues easier visa policy for foreigners inoculated with Chinese vaccines
The policy announcement, which covers foreigners applying for visas in the Chinese territory, comes a day after the United States, India, Japan and Australia announced plans to provide vaccines more widely to other countries. The four so-called Quad powers promised to help finance the production in India of at least a billion doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of next year.
In view of resuming people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner, starting from March 15, the office will provide facilitation for visa applicants who have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained vaccination certificates, read a statement the office released on its website on Friday.
The facilitation is aimed at exploring a more flexible and efficient immigration policy during the pandemic, including the policy of entering the Chinese mainland after landing in Hong Kong from abroad, Li Xiaobin, a Hong Kong studies expert at Nankai University in Tianjin on Saturday, said Global Times.
The Hong Kong government allows residents to choose between the Sinovac vaccine from mainland China and a version of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that it imported from Germany. The announcement on Saturday did not specify whether people in Hong Kong who have already received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot would need to be vaccinated again with the Sinovac product.
China is trying to increase the international appeal of its shots, even as scientists and foreign governments urge Chinese vaccine makers to be more transparent with their clinical trial data. Guo Weimin, a Chinese government spokesman, said that China had sent vaccines to 69 countries by the end of February and begun commercial exports to 28 countries.
|Notice on Visa Facilitation |
The facilitation applies only to applicants who have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China, either having received two doses of Chinese-made vaccines with the stipulated gap in between, or having received a single-dose Chinese-made vaccine at least 14 days prior to the application, and obtained the vaccination certificate, the office noted.
1. Foreign nationals and their family members visiting the mainland of China for resuming work and production in various fields need only to provide the documents required before the COVID-19 pandemic when applying for a visa. The Invitation Letter (PU), Invitation Letter (TE) or Invitation Verification Notice issued by the foreign affairs offices or the departments of commerce of the provincial (including autonomous regions and municipalities) governments or the headquarters of central state-owned enterprises are no longer required.
2. The scope of applicants eligible for applying for a visa out of emergency humanitarian needs will be expanded as appropriate. Foreign family members of Chinese citizens or permanent residents of China, including spouse, parents, children and other close relatives living together (referring to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren), may submit visa applications for the purposes of reuniting with family, taking care of the elderly, visiting relatives, attending funerals or visiting critically ill relatives.
3. 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 of China.
Other applicants still have to follow the procedure stated previously, which required all applicants to provide COVID-19 negative certificates tested within 72 hours along with a health and travel declaration and an invitation.