China reaches comprehensive mutual visa exemption agreement with 23 countries
China now enjoys comprehensive mutual visa exemption with 23 countries after reaching an agreement on mutual visa exemption with Thailand on Jan 28.
The agreement, which allows the holders of ordinary passports for both side and passports for public affairs for Chinese side stays of up to 30 days, will take effect on March 1.
Also, China has reached deals on mutual visa exemptions covering different passports with 157 countries and agreements on simplifying visa procedures with 44 countries. In addition, more than 60 countries and regions have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival services for Chinese citizens.
Recently, the French government has announced that Chinese master's degree holders who have studied in France will be granted a five-year visa; the Swiss government will provide more visa facilitations for Chinese citizens and enterprises investing in Switzerland; and the Irish government is actively considering providing more convenience for Chinese tourists and endorsements for Chinese enterprises investing in Ireland.
According to the World Tourism Barometer recently released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (now UNWTO), the number of international tourists will return to the level before the COVID-19 epidemic in 2024. The report predicts that the Chinese outbound and inbound tourism market will develop rapidly in 2024.
China's border authorities handled over 424 million entries and exits by individuals in 2023, a significant increase of 266.5 percent year-on-year, according to the National Immigration Administration.
Of the 424 million entries and exits, 206 million crossings were made by mainland residents, an increase of 218.7 percent year-on-year, and 183 million were made by residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, up 292.8 percent from 2022.
In addition, nearly 35.48 million crossings were made by foreign nationals, a year-on-year increase of 693.1 percent.