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China latest efforts to optimize the nation’s COVID-19 response have boosted demand for inbound and outbound travel. The number of applicants for inbound and outbound travel documents at the Exit-Entry Reception Hall of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (BMPSB) in Dongcheng District of the capital city saw a significant jump on January 9, the day after the country lifted international travel restrictions.
In line with the downgrading of COVID-19 to a Class B infectious disease, authorities removed all quarantine requirements for inbound passengers, introduced policies to facilitate the resumption of international flights, and resumed accepting applications from Chinese nationals for passports to travel overseas for tourism or to visit friends and family. China also began relaxing restrictions on inbound foreign nationals, who usually come to China to work, do business, go sightseeing, study, or to visit family.
“We’re optimizing the services we offer to foreigners in Beijing. For example, we’re increasing the number of venues where foreigners can apply for work or residence permits,” Ji Xiaowen, a member of staff at the bureau told media. Another representative of the Entry-Exit Administration of BMPSB told media the bureau aimed to offer standardized services to all applicants.
The changes are also welcome news for many in Hong Kong and Macao, who had been unable to visit or return to the mainland due to COVID-19 restrictions before the changes were made. China also resumed issuing permits for mainland residents to visit Hong Kong and Macao for tourism and business.
Leo Reng, a mainland student completing his PhD program at Hong Kong University, was unable to return home last year due to quarantine restrictions. “This year, it will be more convenient for me to go home and my parents will also be able to visit me in Hong Kong,” Reng told Beijing Review.
Derek Holste, a U.S. student studying in Beijing, came to the reception hall to apply for a residence permit. “It’s amazing. I’m glad that students from all over the world can come back to China and finally start studying again,” he told Beijing Review.
Further relaxation of travel restrictions and the return of flights to pre-pandemic levels are expected in the coming months, and both will contribute to the economic rebound.
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson