China eases entry requirements for Europeans

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China has eased entry conditions for nationals of 36 European countries, facilitating visa access for people who already hold a residence permit but have been stranded abroad for four months due to the epidemic.

China, where the new coronavirus appeared at the end of 2019, closed its borders at the end of March as the epidemic stalled at home but spread to many countries. Foreigners holding a Chinese residence permit thus found themselves stranded outside the country without being able to return to China.

But several Chinese embassies in Europe published a statement on their website on Wednesday stating that people in possession of a valid residence permit could now “apply for a Chinese visa free of charge”.

Among the countries concerned are Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Since the end of March, some foreigners have been able to return to China, such as diplomats or certain businessmen, technicians or teachers. But the latter needed a letter of invitation from the local authorities, which could be complicated to obtain, and the visa was chargeable.

The press release issued by the German Embassy specifies that this invitation letter is no longer necessary to obtain a visa.

Returning candidates will however have to find a plane ticket, the prices of which have skyrocketed in recent months.

In addition to closing borders, Beijing ordered a drastic reduction in international air links at the end of March, limited to one per company, per country and per week.

However, an easing was noted recently, in particular to the benefit of Air France, which will be able to provide three weekly connections between China and France from the end of August.

“As soon as they arrive in China, the travelers concerned must strictly adhere to the preventive measures against the coronavirus put in place by the local authorities of China”, recalls the Chinese embassy in Paris.

A quarantine of 14 days remains imposed on arrival in China to any person coming from abroad.

While the pandemic is showing signs of recovery in Europe, China has practically eradicated the epidemic on its soil, the country announcing Thursday only 25 new cases of contamination, including 16 in people from abroad.

No deaths have been recorded in China since mid-May, if official data is to be believed. However, sources of contamination have since appeared in several sectors, in particular in Beijing, in the north-east and in the north-west of the country.

The toll of the epidemic in China officially amounts to nearly 85,000 contaminations, including 4,634 fatal.

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