Foreign nationals who have been inoculated with one of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccines can now enter the country via Hong Kong with simplified visa procedures.
From March 15, 2021, applicants who have taken one of the Chinese vaccines will no longer need to provide a negative nucleic acid test, a health and travel declaration form or a letter of invitation with their applications for a China visa.
The new scheme, announced by the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong on Friday, is the first step towards China issuing vaccine visas, according to experts. If successful, the same or similar measures could be rolled out with other countries.
Under the new rules, foreign nationals applying for visas from Hong Kong need only provide the same documents required before the Covid-19 pandemic, plus a certificate of inoculation with one of the Chinese vaccines.
Two doses of a two-dose Chinese vaccine with the proper wait time in between or one dose of the single-dose Chinese vaccine 14 days before application will be accepted.
Foreign nationals and their families members can now use the scheme to apply to enter mainland China to resume work or visit family members who are Chinese citizens or permanent residents.
The scope for family reunification has also been expanded to include siblings, grandparents and grandchildren (in addition to spouses, parents and children) for the purpose of reuniting family, visiting relatives, taking care of elderly or critically sick relatives and attending funerals.
Holders of APEC business travel cards can also apply for M visas with an invitation letter.
It remains unclear, however, whether vaccinated arrivals will need to quarantine in China. According to Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccines expert, policies on the quarantine procedures still need to be “regulated.”
All other foreign nationals not entering through Hong Kong with a Chinese vaccination certificate will still need to follow the previous Covid and visa requirements for their country of origin, the Global Times reports.