BEIJING (Reuters) - China, since reopening its borders in 2023 after three years of self-imposed isolation due to COVID-19, has sealed visa waiver pacts with select countries to encourage travel of its citizens, a boon to foreign destinations wooing Chinese tourists.
In exchange, China will waive visa requirements for citizens from some countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore for 30 days, though it has yet to restore a visa-free policy for short-term Japanese visitors amid strained bilateral ties.
China has even unilaterally allowed visa-free entry for citizens from nations such as Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy for 15 days. Those five European nations have yet to reciprocate with a similar arrangement for Chinese citizens.
Below are various visa agreements that China has made so far:
MUTUAL VISA EXEMPTION
China and Thailand agreed on Sunday to permanently waive visa requirements for each other's citizens, a deal reached during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Thailand.
The mutual plan, with effect from March 1, came on the heels of a similar agreement between China and Singapore that will go into effect on Feb. 9, bringing the number of countries in the mutual waiver pool to 22.
Most of the countries with mutual visa exemption agreements with China are in Asia, including Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Maldives, and Armenia.
The five European countries that have agreed on mutual visa waivers are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and San Marino.
Six countries have endorsed such arrangements in the Americas, including Barbados, the Bahamas, Ecuador, Dominica, Grenada, and Suriname.
The mutual visa-free regime also applies to two African countries - Mauritius and Seychelles - and two Oceanian countries - Fiji and Tonga.
China announced in late November that it would offer Malaysian passport holders visa-free access through Nov. 30, 2024. Malaysia said a few days later it would waive visa requirements for Chinese passport holders until Dec. 31, 2024.
UNILATERAL VISA EXCEPTION
More than 20 countries and regions have unilaterally given visa-free access to holders of Chinese passports.
The unilateral visa-free countries in Americas are Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Saint Lucia, and Jamaica.
In Asia, Chinese citizens can enter Oman, South Korea's Jeju Island, Uzbekistan, Iran, the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam, and Georgia with a visa.
Oceanian countries falling under the arrangement are Micronesia, Niue, Samoa, French Polynesia, and Kiribati.
Among the African deal signatories are Gabon, Morocco, Mozambique, Tunisia, Zambia, Angola, and Benin.
VISA ON ARRIVAL
Chinese passport holders can get a visa on arrival in more than 40 countries and regions, such as Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Madagascar, Bolivia, Cook Islands, Palau, and Egypt.
TRANSIT VISA EXEMPTION
Chinese travellers are exempt from transit visa requirements in 40-plus countries and regions including Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary, and Italy.
(Reporting by Qiaoyi Li and Ryan Woo; Editing by Alison Williams)