Passengers walk through Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, August 25, 2020.
Yan Cong | Bloomberg | Getty Images
China is facilitating the entry of foreigners vaccinated against Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines after closing their borders to international travel more than a year ago because of Covid-19.
But the instructions only apply to those who have been fully vaccinated using Covid-19 vaccines made in China and have a vaccination certificate proving it.
To be clear, people with valid residence permits can enter China without new visas. Those who do not have Chinese vaccines can also apply for visas, but will need stronger reasons or specific documents to meet the requirements.
Chong Ya Yan, an associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, discussed the possible reasons for the Chinese move.
“Vaccine nationalism is an option that cannot be ruled out given the lack of additional explanations,” he told CNBC in an email.
Chong also said some observers suggest that this is a way for China to gain greater use and recognition of its vaccines or get countries to approve their vaccines more quickly.
China has developed five vaccines, and 34 countries have approved at least one Chinese vaccine, according to CNBC calculations based on the Covid-19 vaccine monitoring site.
Chinese vaccines have met with some skepticism because the information is less available than that produced by Western pharmaceutical companies.
Covid-19 was first reported in China, in the city of Wuhan, before spreading to the rest of the world. Today, the coronavirus is mostly under control in China, but the country’s borders have remained mostly closed to foreigners.
Notices from each embassy differed in wording, but generally, foreigners from certain countries who have been fully vaccinated with Chinese vaccines require fewer documents to apply for visas. They are allowed into the country for several reasons – although tourism is not one of them.
For example, the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom said that those applying for business entry they will no longer need to deliver an invitation letter from provincial governments or trade departments. Those who do not have the Chinese vaccine will still need to prepare an invitation letter to apply, based on visa applications announced in November.
China has also expanded the scope of those eligible to apply for humanitarian visas. Those from the UK who want to enter the country to reunite with their family can now apply if they have taken Chinese footage.
Without the Chinese vaccine, foreigners from the UK can only apply to enter if a family member is in critical condition and needs care or if they need to arrange a funeral in China.
Quarantine measures in the country for up to 21 days continue to be applied where negative Covid tests will also be required. Applicants should wait 14 days after receiving the Chinese-made vaccine before applying for a visa to enter China.