China expands visa availability as pandemic concerns ease

China is easing its tough restrictions on visas after largely ceasing to issue them to foreign students and others more than two years ago at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The website of the Chinese Embassy in India said the updated procedures will take effect from Wednesday, without making specific mention of vaccine requirements or proof of a negative test for the virus.

China still requires people arriving from overseas to quarantine in a hotel or private home and proof of a negative test is required to enter many public and commercial spaces.

People wearing face masks at a shopping and office complex in Beijing (Mark Schiefelbein/AP)

The easing of visa restrictions is important for Indian students, especially those pursuing medical studies which are much more affordable in China than in Western countries.

“For students returning to China to resume their studies, a ‘Return to Campus Certificate’ issued by the university in China” is required, the embassy said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington also issued a notice saying the new rules for students and others would go into effect from Wednesday.

China has largely closed its borders after the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

The government has pursued an uncompromising ‘zero-Covid’ policy which has seen millions of people placed under lockdown, but these measures have been gradually lifted amid a reduced number of cases and a public outcry over the economic costs and social.

Sporadic outbreaks continue to occur, with 1,641 new cases of domestic transmission announced Wednesday, including in remote areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang in the northwest. Most of them were asymptomatic and no new deaths were reported.

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