More foreigners are now able to enter China after Beijing eased its Covid-19 travel restrictions on Monday. However, the relaxed rules only apply to people who have received the China-made Sinovac vaccine.
“In view of resuming people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner… the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the HKSAR will provide the following facilitation for visa applicants who have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained the vaccination certificate,” a statement from the city’s commissioner’s office read on Friday.
Foreign nationals and their family members can now apply for visas to “resume working and “production in various fields” while holders of an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation business travel card can apply for a business visa.
The range of people eligible to enter China on “emergency humanitarian” grounds has also been broadened. Visas will now be granted to parents, spouses, siblings and grandparents for the purposes of “reuniting with family.”
Previously, visas were only granted for foreign nationals to attend to a dying family member or to make funeral arrangements for immediate family members.
Similar notices were issued by Chinese embassies in other countries, including the US, Israel and India.
People who travel to China under the new visa categories will still be required to fulfill existing quarantine requirements on the mainland, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said on Monday.
“Our requirement for inbound passengers to hold a certificate showing negative results for both nucleic acid and antibody testing remains unchanged. After arriving in China, they should still comply with Chinese regulations on quarantine and observation,” he said.
“China stands ready to advance mutual recognition of vaccination with other countries,” Zhao added.
The China-developed Sinovac vaccine has raised concerns in Hong Kong following the deaths of seven people in the city within days of receiving the jab since late February. Health officials however, have ruled out a link with the vaccine in all seven cases.
The vaccine is not administered to people aged 60 and over in mainland China.
China, where the Covid-19 virus first emerged in late 2019, has maintained steady control of the pandemic using authoritarian measures including strictly enforced lockdowns.