China, Australia to issue five-year visas to citizens for tourism, business

Illustration shows printed Chinese and Australian flags

BEIJING (Reuters) -China and Australia will provide each other's citizens with multiple-entry visas of up to five years for tourism and business from Friday, the Chinese foreign ministry said, in another sign of improving ties between the two countries.

The visa arrangement followed a milestone trip by China's Premier Li Qiang to Australia earlier this week that marked a stabilisation in bilateral relations after a period of frosty ties.

Previously, Chinese citizens could apply for visas of up to one year to visit Australia, or up to 10 years for frequent travellers.

Within an hour following the announcement, searches for flight tickets, hotels and other items for Australia surged more than 200% on Chinese travel site Tongcheng Travel, state-backed media The Paper reported.

Since last year, China has been easing entry requirements for visitors from some countries to facilitate travel for business and pleasure, following three years of harsh COVID-19 restrictions that had largely shut its international borders.

During Li's trip to Australia, he said China would also include Australia in its visa waiver scheme, allowing Australians to visit the country for up to 15 days without a visa.

(Reporting by Ella Cao, Ethan Wang and Ryan Woo, Editing by William Maclean)