China said on Monday it will simplify visa applications for foreign nationals who have been inoculated with Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, its latest small step towards normalising international travel.
Several Chinese embassies including the United States, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Philippines and Italy have now published details of visa applications on their websites.
Applicants should have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China, either having received two doses of Chinese-made vaccines with the stipulated time gap in between or having received a single-dose of the Chinese-made vaccine at least 14 days prior to the application, and obtained the vaccination certificate.
Vaccinated passengers travelling to China by air will still need to show negative tests as under current rules, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, according to an official transcript of a daily briefing. The transcript did not provide further details on how visa applications would be simplified.
Travellers “should abide by China’s relevant regulations on quarantine and observation after entering China,” Zhao said, adding that China was willing to carry out mutual recognition of vaccination with other nations, the Reuters reported.
The Chinese embassy in the Philippines said earlier on Monday China would return to pre-pandemic visa requirements for those fully vaccinated with Chinese vaccines. On Saturday China announced streamlined visa procedures for vaccinated foreigners entering Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.
China has been exporting its vaccines mostly to emerging countries. This outreach prompted the United States, Australia, Japan and top global vaccine producer India to announce plans to distribute vaccines in Asia in a competition that has become known as “vaccine diplomacy”.
China has largely brought the coronavirus under control at home since it first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. The country recorded just five new infections on Sunday, all imported cases.
To stave off the risk of imported cases causing a resurgence in local infections, China restricts entry by foreign nationals to certain purposes, such as work, and those that are allowed in still have to undergo quarantine.