(Bloomberg) — China released a series of measures intended to ease movement across and within its borders, as the country’s post-Covid economic recovery stalls.
The Ministry of Public Security released 26 new measures on Thursday, with some intended to ease visitation rules, including allowing travelers to upgrade their single-entry arrival visas to multiple-entry versions valid for as many as three years.
Foreign nationals who travel to China for reasons such as business negotiations, investment and entrepreneurship, and exhibitions and conferences can apply for landing visas with an invitation letter and supporting materials, according to the measures. Those with additional business needs can convert the visa-on-arrival to a multiple-entry visa after entering the country.
The new rules also allow foreign nationals to keep their passports while their residence permits are being processed. Previously authorities would issue a temporary travel document that was not as widely accepted as passports for arranging travel.
“While a welcome step in the right direction, these measures by themselves will not be sufficient to restore business travel to pre-pandemic levels, nor to restore China’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign talent,” said Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. Other issues affecting foreign companies — including the lack of transparency and predictability of China’s policy environment — need to be addressed, he added.
China’s top leaders have been trying to signal that the country is open for business and investment after closing its borders during the Covid-19 pandemic. The country’s economic growth is sputtering amid a build up of risk in local government debt and the property sector, while geopolitical risks continue to weigh on confidence. Meanwhile, raids and detentions at foreign firms and those serving overseas clients have raised questions among executives on whether it was safe to travel to the country.
The measures also detail plans to scrap restrictions on household registration in cities of less than 3 million people and relax policies for those with a population between 3 million and 5 million people, state-owned Global Times reported, citing comments by Ministry of Public Security official Yuan Xiguo at a briefing on Thursday. China’s household registration system, known as hukou, restricts people from accessing government services outside the area where they are registered as residing.
The Ministry of Public Security said it plans to implement the measures by the end of August, according to the Global Times.
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