China will reopen its borders to foreign tourists for the first time after three years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
On Monday, China’s Embassy in the United States announced that the country will begin issuing all categories of visas for foreigners starting Wednesday.
The decision comes after Chinese authorities declared victory over the virus last month.
China is one of the last major countries to reopen its borders. Beijing hopes to revive the world’s second-largest economy and its domestic tourism industry after following a strict “zero COVID” policy amid fierce opposition from citizens.
Travelers holding valid visas issued before March 28, 2020, will be allowed to enter China.
According to the embassy’s statement, visa-free entry will resume for foreigners entering Guangdong in southern China from Hong Kong and Macao as well as for cruise ships entering Shanghai that had no visa requirement before COVID-19.
However, travelers are still required to take a COVID-19 test 48 hours before departure.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters that China had “optimized measures for remote testing of people coming to China from relevant countries.” The country will allow pre-boarding antigen testing instead of nucleic acid testing.
China will continue to make better arrangements for the safe, healthy and orderly movement of Chinese and foreign personnel on the basis of scientific assessments and in light of the situation. We also hope that all parties will join China in creating favorable conditions for cross-border exchanges.