Covid-19: Beijing eases visa rules for some foreign workers injected with Chinese vaccine

Kinling Lo
·2-min read

Beijing’s immigration procedures for foreign workers returned to pre-pandemic levels on Monday, but only for those from selected countries who can show they have been injected with a Chinese vaccine.

“Foreign nationals and their family members visiting mainland China to resume work … need only provide the documents required before the Covid-19 pandemic when applying for a visa,” the Chinese foreign ministry office in Hong Kong said in a statement on Friday.

Similar notices were published on the WeChat accounts of China’s embassies in Japan, Israel, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan and Gabon.

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The announcement means such visitors are no longer required to provide additional information such as an invitation letter from a diplomatic, commercial or Chinese state-owned enterprise to enter the country, as was temporarily the case when applying for a visa.

The decision was made with a view to “resuming people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner”, the notice said.

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However, the exemption applies only to “applicants who have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines produced in China (either having received two doses … with the stipulated gap in between, or a single dose at least 14 days before the application) and obtained the vaccination certificate”, it said.

The simplified procedure is also open to people applying for an emergency visa on humanitarian grounds, such as to care for a critically ill family member or attend a funeral.

The notice made no mention of the tens of thousands of foreign students effectively locked out of China because of the coronavirus, many of whom have launched online campaigns appealing to be allowed back into the country to resume their studies.

Beijing says it has donated Chinese Covid-19 vaccines t 69 countries. Photo: AP
Beijing says it has donated Chinese Covid-19 vaccines t 69 countries. Photo: AP

Beijing introduced some of the world’s strictest immigration policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and most foreigners have been locked out since March last year.

China has so far authorised four locally manufactured vaccines for use within its borders, some of which have also been approved for emergency and general use overseas.

Beijing is keen to promote its home-grown products overseas – official figures say they have been donated to 69 countries and sold to 28 as of the end of last month – the lack of transparency regarding the results of their clinical trials have led to concerns in some countries about their safety and efficacy.

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