China’s New Visa-Free Policy Attracts Over 2,000 Visitors on Day One

Earlier this month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced the unilateral visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from six countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. The goal is to strengthen diplomatic ties and encourage cross-cultural interactions between China and these nations. The inaugural day saw an impressive influx of 2,029 international visitors entering the country through visa-free channels, signalling a positive response to the initiative to foster international relations and promote people-to-people exchanges.

During the trial period, from December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024, citizens from these countries could enter China without needing a visa, covering purposes such as business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends, and transit. However, the visa exemption is subject to a maximum stay of 15 days.

Implementing the relaxed visa policy was met with enthusiasm. It so far has resulted in a substantial 12.54-percent increase in the number of inbound international visitors from the six designated countries compared to the previous day. Airports in major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong Province, and Yunnan Province, experienced a surge in arrivals as travellers from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia took advantage of the newfound convenience.

The travel data gathered during this period will be instrumental in assessing the feasibility of extending the policy to additional countries or making it a permanent feature. The introduction of a 15-day visa-free policy by China for citizens of select countries signifies a significant step toward eliminating one of the primary barriers to international travel—visa fees and associated costs.

By removing these constraints, China is not only promoting greater ease of access for tourists and business travellers. As the world becomes more interconnected, the elimination of such barriers represents a valuable strategy to encourage cultural exchange, collaboration, and mutually beneficial relationships on a global scale.