China is introducing a temporary visa waiver for visitors from six countries – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia – to rejuvenate post-pandemic tourism. Starting December 1 and lasting until November 30 the following year, this exemption applies to citizens of these nations traveling for business, tourism, family visits, or transit stays up to 15 days.

The initiative is part of China’s broader efforts to revitalize its tourism industry, which has been impacted by stringent COVID-19 restrictions. These measures included closing borders and reducing international flights, isolating China globally.

Amidst tensions with Western nations over various issues, including COVID-19 policies, human rights, Taiwan, and trade, the Chinese government is striving to improve its international image. A Pew Research Center survey across 24 countries indicated a predominantly negative perception of China, with 67% of adults holding unfavorable views and more than half believing China disregards other countries’ interests.

Germany’s ambassador to China, Patricia Flor, welcomed the announcement, expressing hope for its extension to all EU member states. However, reciprocal visa-free travel for Chinese citizens to Germany hinges on the European Schengen Agreement’s unanimous approval.

Recently, China extended its visa-free transit policy to include Norway, bringing the total to 54 countries. Additionally, it eliminated COVID testing for incoming travelers and resumed 15-day visa-free entry for Singaporean and Bruneian citizens. The country’s international flight network is gradually recovering, aiming to reach 71% of its volume from four years ago within the next five months.

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