China to set up fast track for foreign business personnel: official

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/14 21:28:37

An employee of German car maker Volkswagen works at the assembly line of the company's plant in Wolfsburg, northern Germany, after production at the plant restarted on Monday, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Photo: AFP


Chinese government departments are working with some countries and regions to set up "express access" channels for the entry of personnel of foreign-invested enterprises amid the virus outbreak, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday.

Global companies operating in China could report any difficulties to the ministry or local commerce authorities if their foreign employees find it hard to enter the country, MOFCOM spokesperson Gao Feng said, noting that "we will actively coordinate with relevant departments."

Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China on March 28 temporarily halted entry by most foreign nationals.

The Chinese government has discussed with the German chamber of commerce and also with the German Embassy a fast track procedure to get employees of German companies back to China, Jens Hildebrandt, Executive Director of the German Chamber of Commerce in China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"We are planning the first possible charter flight on May 25 with around 200 people. It's going to start from Frankfurt and go to Shanghai Pudong," Hildebrandt said.

These people are urgently needed by their companies in China. They include specialists and machine maintenance technicians, as well as employees' families - many families have already been separated for three months, he said. 

"All passengers should take COVID-19 tests in Germany before they board…we will also take security measures on the flight. The Chinese side has proposed that there should be a 48-hour quarantine after arrival in China," he said, adding that everyone must take nucleic acid and antibody tests during their quarantine period after arriving in Shanghai.

Hildebrandt noted that "that's very good example of how orderly a fast track procedure can work ... not only for Germany, maybe also for others." 

"If the whole procedure can go through in a smooth way, this process could serve as a blueprint for further charter flights," he said, noting that "I think the Chinese side is very supportive."

There are more than 5,000 German companies seeking growth in China and about 60 percent of them are located in Shanghai, 30 percent in North China and 10 percent in South and Southwest China.

As of mid-March, about 80 percent of German firms had resumed work in China. "It's going better in some areas like the automotive sector, while some sectors related to consumers are not going so well ... like the hotel business. But that's not a surprise," Hildebrandt said.


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