China has begun simplifying the visa process for inbound travelers and foreign nationals who have been inoculated with the Chinese-produced COVID-19 vaccine. From Monday March 22, persons in countries including Australia, Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany will have access to more normalised visa processing.
Announcements have been made by Chinese embassies in over 15 countries this week outlining that persons traveling to China for business purposes and who have been vaccinated with a Chinese produced vaccine can prepare visa applications along with a certificate of vaccination. Furthermore, foreign nationals who are APEC card holders can resume applications with vaccination certificates and invitation letters as per pre-pandemic requirements. Those traveling by air are still required to abide by local Chinese quarantine regulations once in country and are to provide negative certificates of nucleic acid tests and IgM antibody tests before boarding.
A key change to the updated visa process is the Invitation Letter (PU), Invitation Letter (TE) or Invitation Verification Notice issued by the foreign affairs offices or the departments of commerce of the provincial (including autonomous regions and municipalities) governments or the headquarters of central state-owned enterprises are no longer required. APEC card holders can also apply for the M visa by presenting their original and valid APEC business travel card along with invitation letter issued by the inviting party.
Since Australians can currently only receive an approved vaccine prescribed by a medical practitioner, they are therefore unable to utilise the streamlined process for the time being. Outside of Hong Kong, Chinese vaccines have been approved for use in several Asian countries including Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, however in several other countries where China has offered a relaxing of regulations, there is no Chinese vaccine available.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi has also stated at a news conference on March 10 that China plans to implement a health certificate program for international travellers, containing information on recent test results as well as vaccination status.
Further information can be found here.