Following the latest decision to manage COVID-19 with measures against Class-B infectious diseases, relevant departments under the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism have, after full assessment, formulated provisional measures on cross-border travel. I will now briefly go over these measures.
First, inbound travelers will need to show a negative nucleic acid test taken within 48 hours prior to departure. The test result will need to be noted in the customs health declaration form. Inbound travelers no longer need to apply for a health code from Chinese embassies or consulates. Those who test positive need to postpone their travel until they have a negative test result.
Second, nucleic acid tests will no longer be conducted on inbound travelers upon arrival. Those with no issues to report in their health declaration who have been given regular customs inspection and quarantine clearance can enter China without being subject to quarantine. Those with issues to report in their health declaration or symptoms such as fever shall receive antigen tests at the customs. For travelers who test positive, those determined to be asymptomatic or mild cases without serious underlying health conditions may self-quarantine or exercise self-care at home or place of residence. Other types of cases are advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Those who test negative shall go through regular customs inspection and quarantine clearance in accordance with the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law and other established laws and regulations of China.
Third, passenger capacity limits on international flights will be removed with phased increases in the number of flights and refined distribution of flight routes. Airlines need to keep proper prevention measures in place on board including mandatory mask-wearing for passengers.
Fourth, China will further refine arrangements for foreign nationals’ entry into China for such purposes as resumption of work, business, education, visiting relatives and family reunion and provide corresponding visa facilitation.
Fifth, China will adjust the cargo-only policy at ports of entry and gradually resume entry and exit of passengers by land and water and provide greater convenience for Chinese and foreign crew change in China.
Sixth, China will resume outbound tourism for Chinese citizens in an orderly fashion, starting with a pilot scheme.
These provisional measures will take effect on January 8, 2023 Beijing time. Chinese embassies and consulates will also issue relevant notices. Those who plan to travel to China are advised to closely follow the updates and take effective self-protection steps to reduce the risk of infection. China will continue working to make its COVID response measures more science-based, targeted and responsive to the evolving COVID situation, and better facilitate the safe and orderly cross-border travel of Chinese and foreign nationals.
AFP: A follow-up question. Does it mean that China will start to issue tourist visas again next month? Can you clarify this?
Wang Wenbin: The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet ended. China will continue to adjust its visa policy for foreign nationals to keep up with the latest COVID situation and ease the travel of people coming to China for various purposes.
CCTV: The foreign ministry has released on its website the provisional measures on cross-border travel. Could you share the considerations behind these measures?
Wang Wenbin: Since COVID-19 began three years ago, the Chinese government has effectively coordinated COVID response with economic and social development and has refined the response measures by keeping them science-based, targeted and responsive to the evolving situation. In accordance with the 20 refined measures, the 10 new measures and the latest decision to downgrade management of COVID-19 to Class-B, relevant departments under the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism formulated these provisional measures on cross-border travel, which are up-to-date and in sync with the current domestic COVID measures. This will facilitate efforts to better coordinate COVID response with economic and social development, and make cross-border travel easier, safer, more orderly and more efficient.
Dragon TV: It is reported that at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting on December 23, the Japanese government approved a defense budget that amounted up to 6.8 trillion yen for the fiscal year of 2023, hitting a new record high. What is China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports and express our concerns over Japan’s significant defense budget hike. Japan has been hyping up regional tensions to seek military breakthroughs. This is a very dangerous development, and has led to serious doubts among Japan’s Asian neighbors and the wider international community over whether Japan is genuinely committed to an exclusively defense-oriented policy and a path of peaceful development. Japan needs to earnestly reflect on its history of aggression, act prudently in military and security fields, and avoid further losing the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.
AFP: One more question related to COVID. The Japanese Prime Minister announced that visitors to Japan from China will have to test upon arrival. Do you have any comment on this? And India announced a similar move recently.
Wang Wenbin: Since COVID-19 began three years ago, the Chinese government has refined the response measures by keeping them science-based, targeted and responsive to the evolving situation and has effectively coordinated COVID response with economic and social development, contributing significantly to global solidarity against the pandemic and world economic recovery.
The current COVID situation in the world continues to call for a science-based response approach and joint effort to ensure safe cross-border travel, keep global industrial and supply chains stable, and restore world economic growth. We’ve always believed that for all countries, COVID response measures need to be science-based and proportionate without affecting normal people-to-people exchange.