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China has decided to prolong the visa-free entry for 11 European countries until the end of 2025

China has decided to prolong the visa-free entry for 11 European countries until the end of 2025
Copyright Chen Ying/Xinhua via AP

China's initiative for visa-free travel is designed to enhance tourism and strengthen international relationships.

China has decided to extend visa-free travel for 11 European countries and Malaysia until the end of 2025. The visa-free program was introduced gradually starting from the beginning of 2024 and was initially intended to last for one year. This initiative aims to boost tourism and business visits to China, as well as to facilitate cultural exchanges between Chinese citizens and foreign nationals. Citizens of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland will now have the opportunity to enter China without a visa until the end of next year.

The goal is to "promote the high-quality development of exchanges between Chinese and foreign personnel and to open up to the outside world at a high level," stated Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning during a briefing following the initial announcement made in November. Under the trial program, visa-free entry will be allowed for a period of up to 15 days.

Travel to China from international destinations has not yet fully recovered.

China's stringent pandemic measures, including mandatory quarantines for all incoming travelers, have deterred visitors for nearly three years. Although the restrictions were lifted early last year, international travel has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Previously, China allowed citizens from Brunei, Japan, and Singapore to enter without a visa, but this was suspended after the COVID-19 outbreak. While visa-free entry has been resumed for Brunei and Singapore, it has not been reinstated for Japan.

In 2023, China recorded 35.5 million entries and exits by foreigners, a significant decrease from the 97.7 million in 2019, the year before the pandemic.

The Chinese government is actively seeking foreign investment to stimulate its sluggish economy. Some businesspeople, including prominent figures such as Elon Musk of Tesla and Tim Cook of Apple, have been attending trade fairs and meetings. However, foreign tourists are still uncommon compared to the period before the pandemic.

What other measures is China implementing to make travel easier for Europeans?

In the past year, there has been a significant increase in the interest of Europeans in visiting China as a tourist destination. Data from, an online travel agency, indicates a 663% rise in overall bookings from Europe to China compared to 2022, and a nearly 29% increase compared to 2019. The United Kingdom and Germany were among the top 10 countries contributing to inbound travelers to China globally. Shanghai remains the most popular destination for Europeans, followed by Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, due to its captivating mix of modernity and tradition.

Additionally, emerging destinations such as Sanya, located on the southern end of Hainan Island, and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China, are gaining attention. China is promoting cultural and historical attractions in collaboration with to further boost inbound tourism. Furthermore, the country is investing in technology, travel guides, and e-payment systems to enhance its tourism infrastructure.


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