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Chinese can visit 18 countries without prior visas

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-15 1:43:01

Chinese passport-holders can visit some 18 foreign countries and regions without first having to acquire visas but the exit and entry inspection could bar Chinese nationals from leaving the country if their destination does not fit with the government protocol.

The Beijing General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection said on Tuesday on its official Sina Weibo account that its intention as one that "does not want to stop travelers but the inspection station itself has to follow protocols issued by the Ministry of Public Security."

The Inspection said it had not received instructions from the Ministry of Public Security to implement the visa-free policy in certain countries.

 China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs must first sign visa-free agreements with relevant countries for such a policy to be fully understood and implemented by both sides.

The foreign ministry would then inform the Ministry of Public Security, which would make new protocols and pass them on to inspection stations, according to the Weibo post.

"Otherwise the visa-free or visa-on-arrival policy, as declared by some countries unilaterally, cannot be honored from our side," the post said.

Chinese travelers face difficulties traveling to some foreign countries owing to historical reasons, the Inspection said.

"In earlier times, China had launched strict exit and entry policies to control the number of people traveling abroad. Many Chinese people tried to find their way into developed countries and stay there as illegal immigrants, triggering complaints from immigration departments of those countries," the Weibo post added.

"The complaints have in turn prompted authorities to strengthen the crackdown on illegal immigration."

The 18 countries and regions are Mauritius, Jeju Island in South Korea, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Indonesia, San Marino, Seychelles, Samoa, Maldives, Haiti, Georgia, Brunei, Fiji, Comoros, Palau, Bahrain, Jordan, and Myanmar.

Chinese nationals can also travel to Timor Leste without a visa but will need an approval letter from its embassy in China.

Among all 18 countries, China has signed memorandums with Mauritius, San Marino and Seychelles, agreeing mutually of visa-free policies.

The news report has shocked many Chinese Netizens, many of whom are from the younger generation and view the current visa policy as "inconvenient" and "inconsistent" with China's status as the world's second-largest economy.

China is working to sign a no-visa agreement next year with Thailand.

The new agreement could open a door in terms of visa policies with other countries, according to the Inspection, which also said that the number of countries that offer on-arrival visas or visa-free policies could increase from 18 to 180 in coming years.

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