China eases visa rules for foreigners who get Chinese vaccines

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China said it will ease visa application requirements for foreigners seeking to enter the mainland from Hong Kong if they have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines made in China.

The new rule will take effect on Monday to resume “people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries in an orderly manner,” according to a government announcement Friday.

Foreigners visiting the mainland for work will face less paperwork in visa applications if they are able to show they have received vaccines produced in China. With the vaccine certificates, these travelers will also be able to skip the requirement for a Covid-19 test or fill out a travel declaration form.

The rule also expands the scope of applicants eligible for a visa due to humanitarian needs, such as taking care of family or attending funerals, if they have received Chinese vaccines. Other applicants should still follow the earlier visa procedure, according to the statement.

The change comes as China has been promoting its home-grown shots globally amid competition from western vaccines. It recently entered a deal with the International Olympic Committee to provide shots made in China for athletes attending the Tokyo Olympics in July and Winter Olympics in Beijing next year.

Most countries in the West have not yet approved vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutic companies, which have been reticent in sharing details of their vaccine trials crucial for building public trust around the world. China is having more success introducing its vaccines in Africa and Latin America, where countries including Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea have received vaccine aid from Beijing.