China will temporarily exempt citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia from the visa requirement to travel to the world’s second-largest economy in a bid to boost tourism after the pandemic. From December 1 to November 30 next year, nationals of the countries entering China for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends or for more than 15 days will not require a visa, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday.
China has been taking steps in recent months to revive its tourism sector after three years of strict COVID-19 measures. It has largely closed its borders to the outside world. This also includes restoring international flight routes. The government wants to re-establish its image across the world after clashing with several Western countries over various issues including Covid, human rights, Taiwan and trade. A recent Pew Research Center survey in 24 countries showed that views about China were largely negative, with 67% of adults expressing unfavorable views.
More than half of the respondents said that China interferes in other countries’ affairs and does not take into account the interests of others. “This decision will facilitate travel to China to an unprecedented extent for many German citizens,” Germany’s ambador to China Patricia Flor said on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. He said visa-free travel to Germany for Chinese citizens would be possible only if all members of the European Schengen agreement approve it. This month, China expanded its visa-free transit policy to 54 countries to include Norwegian citizens.