China sees steady increase in number of cross-border travelers: immigration official
Since January 8, China's inbound and outbound traveler numbers have seen steady growth and an orderly recovery, an immigration official said on Friday.
From January 8 to 12, immigration authorities across the country handled 490,000 exits and entries per day, 48.9 percent more than before China classified COVID-19 as a Class B infectious disease, said Liu Haitao, director general of the Department of Frontier Inspection and Management under the National Immigration Administration (NIA), at a press conference held by the State Council joint COVID-19 prevention and control mechanism.
The average daily number of inbound visits totaled 250,000 and outbound visits hit 240,000, up 54.7 percent and 43.3 percent, respectively, from the numbers recorded before China downgraded its COVID-19 response measures, Liu said.
Since January 8, over 1.35 million mainland residents have applied for entry and exit documents, an increase of 129.4 percent from before the policy change.
As the Spring Festival holiday draws near, exit and entry points are expecting a travel peak, Liu said, adding that the NIA has asked immigration authorities at all levels to step up efficiency to ensure Chinese citizens wait no more than 30 minutes for custom clearance.
Since January 8, when new measures for cross-border travel came into effect, China has eased its border restrictions, removed caps on flights, air routes and seat capacities, and withdrawn its centralized quarantine upon arrival requirements, said Wu Xi, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official.
However, a handful of countries have adopted excessive and discriminatory restrictions on the entry of Chinese citizens.
The NIA has voiced firm opposition to such restrictions and has taken reciprocal measures.
Liu said that China has suspended its issuance of port visas and its 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy for citizens of the Republic of Korea and Japan since January 11.
"China is committed to opening up and welcomes friends from abroad to study and work in China and engage in business, scientific research, academic exchanges, innovation and entrepreneurship," Liu said.