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Optimized immigration policies benefit people

By Yang Zekun| China Daily| Updated: January 20, 2024 L M S


Foreigners at Beijing Daxing International Airport. [Photo/VCG]

China's border authorities handled over 424 million entries and exits by individuals in 2023, a significant increase of 266.5 percent year-on-year, the National Immigration Administration announced on Tuesday.

Of the 424 million entries and exits, 206 million crossings were made by mainland residents, an increase of 218.7 percent year-on-year, and 183 million were made by residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, up 292.8 percent from 2022.

In addition, nearly 35.48 million crossings were made by foreign nationals, a year-on-year increase of 693.1 percent.

The total volume of crossings in 2023 accounted for about 63.3 percent of that in 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Zhang Ning, a spokeswoman for the immigration administration, said that China has continued to optimize immigration policies and improve immigration services, facilitating exchanges between people from China and other countries.

In 2023, comprehensive measures were taken to fully restore the process of accepting and approving entry and exit documents of Chinese citizens, which had been affected during the pandemic. Also restored were the processes of granting port passenger clearance, regional visa exemption and port visas or visa on arrival for foreigners, and the nationwide service of granting entry permits to mainland residents for travel to Hong Kong and Macao, she said.

Together with other departments, the NIA made multiple adjustments to the entry policies for foreigners, optimizing regional visa exemptions, transit visa exemptions and port visa policies. Visa fees were reduced, and Norway was added to the list of transit visa exemption countries, she said.

Furthermore, a new version of the foreign permanent resident ID card was introduced in December 2023, with more convenient social applications, effectively promoting normal individual exchanges and stable industrial and supply chains between China and foreign countries.

Throughout the year, 18.43 million ordinary passports were issued, an increase of 1,625.4 percent year-on-year, along with 86.09 million documents and endorsements for travel to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, up 1,318 percent year-on-year, according to the NIA.

Additionally, nearly 1.71 million visa documents were issued, up 158.3 percent year-on-year. The authorities also issued various residence permits to a total of 711,000 foreign nationals residing in China, marking a recovery to 85 percent of the level at the end of 2019.

"Considering the continued expansion of the country's openness to the outside world, and the implementation of a series of convenient measures to facilitate the movement of people between China and other countries, a steady increase in the number of foreign individuals coming to China is expected," she said.

In January, the NIA announced several new measures to facilitate the entry of foreign individuals into China, including relaxing the conditions for applying for a visa on arrival, allowing 24-hour direct transit without inspection procedures at key hub airports like Beijing Capital International Airport, enabling foreigners in China to handle visa extensions, renewals and replacements locally, and simplifying the application material requirement for visa documents.

These measures further broaden the channels for foreigners to come to China, providing efficient and convenient immigration management services for those working, studying or living in China, said Zhang.