Q&As at a Press Conference Held by the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism
At 3pm on January 13, 2023, the State Council's Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism held a press conference to give detailed information on optimized measures for the management of cross-border travel. Liu Haitao, director general of the Department of Frontier Inspection and Management of the National Immigration Administration, attended the press conference and answered relevant questions.
Q: As the policy of downgrading the COVID-19 management from Class A to Class B has been implemented since January 8, are there any differences in the number of inbound and outbound travelers? The Spring Festival is drawing near. What measures will the National Immigration Administration take to ensure smooth exit and entry?
Liu Haitao, director general of the Department of Frontier Inspection and Management of the National Immigration Administration: Thank you for your questions. I believe a large number of people are concerned with these questions. The National Immigration Administration has improved our management policies and measures after cross-border travel rules' optimization in the overall policy of downgrading the COVID-19 management from Class A to Class B. According to the monitoring data, the number of inbound and outbound travelers has increased steadily with a trend of orderly recovery since the implementation of these policies on January 8. In general, three features are prominent.
Firstly, the total number of inbound and outbound travelers has surged. Domestic immigration management authorities carried out 490,000 inspections of inbound and outbound travelers per day on average between January 8 and 12, an increase of 48.9 percent compared with the number before the implementation of the COVID-19 management optimization policy, accounting for 26.2 percent of the counterpart in the same period in 2019. Secondly, the recovery in traveling is seen in airports, land ports and seaports at the same time. The average daily number of inbound and outbound travelers reached 21,000, 424,000 and 45,000 for seaports, land ports and airports respectively, with an increase of 13 percent, 53.3 percent and 33.2 percent compared with the numbers before the optimization policy's implementation, accounting for 36.4 percent, 30.1 percent and 11 percent of the counterparts in the same period in 2019. In terms of airports, the number of travelers is the largest at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, reaching a daily average of 11,000. In terms of land ports, Futian Port in Shenzhen enjoys the biggest increase in the number of travelers, namely 21,000 travelers on average per day. Thirdly, the number of inbound travelers is slightly larger than that of outbound travelers. The average daily number of inbound travelers reached 250,000, rising by 54.7 percent compared with the number before the optimization policy was carried out. The average daily number of outbound travelers reached 240,000, an increase of 43.3 percent in comparison to the number before the policy was implemented.
As the Spring Festival holiday is approaching, the number of inbound and outbound travelers is expected to peak at ports. The National Immigration Administration has provided guidance for immigration management authorities at all levels, requiring them to implement the following three measures to ensure smooth entry and exit at ports. Firstly, port inspection should be better organized. Efforts are made to arrange sufficient police officers and channels, optimize the services, improve port layout for inspection, and enhance inspection efficiency to ensure that individuals and vehicles can pass through ports with ease and the waiting time for Chinese citizens' entry or exit will not exceed 30 minutes. Secondly, more traveling instructions and guidance should be offered. The system of announcements and suggestions is implemented, releasing predictions of the peak of the number of inbound and outbound travelers at ports during the Spring Festival holiday, measures to be taken by ports thereof and suggestions for travelers' entry and exit in a timely manner to help them enjoy a more convenient trip. Thirdly, the number of travelers passing through ports should be better monitored. Real-time monitoring is carried out to detect changes in the number of inbound and outbound travelers and make proper plans in advance based on joint efforts with civil aviation, transportation and other departments as well as timely information on operating situations of international flights, ships, and land-based passenger and cargo transportation.
Inbound and outbound travelers are advised to pay attention to the announcements and suggestions on the official website and new-media platforms of the National Immigration Administration, carefully check the validity of travel documents and visas before starting a trip, learn about the entry and epidemic control policies of their destinations in advance, make proper traveling plans, and take care of their own safety and health. Thank you!
Q: A rapid rise in applications for documents at exit-entry service windows has been noticed after the implementation of the National Immigration Administration's optimized policies. What measures will the National Immigration Administration take to satisfy Chinese mainland residents' need for exit-entry documents? It is known that certain countries have imposed epidemic-related restrictions on travelers from China. What are the suggestions of the National Immigration Administration for Chinese citizens hoping to travel abroad?
Liu Haitao, director general of the Department of Frontier Inspection and Management of the National Immigration Administration: After the implementation of optimized policies, Chinese mainland residents can apply for ordinary passports for purposes such as traveling and visiting friends as well as the endorsements to visit the Hong Kong SAR for business and tourism purposes. Since January 8, a total of 1.351 million Chinese mainland residents have applied for exit-entry documents, a 129.4 percent growth compared with the number before the implementation of optimized policies. Specifically, 353,000 individuals have submitted applications for ordinary passports and 998,000 individuals have applied for documents and endorsements for traveling to and from the Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, and Taiwan, up by 89.8 percent and 147.6 percent respectively in comparison to the numbers before the implementation of optimized policies. In order to actively respond to the remarkable growth in applications brought by policy optimization, the exit-entry administrations of domestic public security organs have promptly taken various measures in accordance with the requirements and guidance of the National Immigration Administration. Such efforts include issuing application guidelines, strengthening the monitoring of the number of applications, adopting the method of online appointment to avoid crowding, opening more service windows, extending office hours, optimizing the application procedures, and providing more and better service instructions. In this way, services related to exit-entry documents have been significantly improved, with the more than 3,200 exit-entry service windows across the country operating in an orderly manner at present. It is forecasted that the upcoming Spring Festival will further stimulate Chinese mainland residents' need to travel or visit relatives overseas and the number of applicants for exit-entry documents will continue to rise steadily. The National Immigration Administration will dynamically adjust its management and service measures to facilitate applicants' travel plans.
Certain countries, however, have imposed epidemic-related restrictions on travelers from China, including requirements for certificates of negative nucleic acid test results before departure from China, centralized quarantine of people testing positive for COVID-19, and entry restrictions. Therefore, inbound and outbound travelers are kindly advised to learn about the entry policies of their destinations in advance and make reasonable traveling arrangements in terms of destinations and schedules to avoid inconvenience and unnecessary expenses. Thank you!
Q: The implementation of the National Immigration Administration's optimized policies since January 8 has vigorously promoted Sino-foreign exchanges and communication. However, it is known that certain countries have imposed entry restrictions on Chinese citizens. What is the National Immigration Administration's attitude? What measures will be taken in response?
Liu Haitao, director general of the Department of Frontier Inspection and Management of the National Immigration Administration: In order to maintain stable and orderly administration after the implementation of the policy of downgrading the COVID-19 management from Class A to Class B, immigration management authorities have timely resumed the acceptance and processing of foreign nationals' applications for ordinary visas' renewal, replacement and reissuance, stay permits' issuance, replacement and reissuance, and residence permits' issuance, renewal, replacement and reissuance since January 8, 2023. Applicants with urgent need can resort to expedited procedures, and the port visa issuance and 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy have been resumed. These measures have been carried out well, receiving overwhelming support and recognition from all walks of life. After the optimized policies were carried out, foreign nationals' inbound and outbound travels reached 105,000, with 15,000 visas and documents issued, up 38.9 percent and 106 percent respectively compared with the numbers before the implementation of such policies.
However, after China issued the overall policy of downgrading the COVID-19 management from Class A to Class B and the Interim Measures for Personnel Exchanges between China and Foreign Countries, certain countries have imposed excessive and discriminatory entry restrictions on Chinese citizens. We firmly oppose such restrictions and have adopted corresponding measures in response. From January 11, 2023, the National Immigration Administration has suspended port visa issuance and 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy for citizens of the Republic of Korea and Japan. It is believed that the epidemic control measures should be scientific and reasonable and refrain from causing discrimination or adverse impacts on normal cross-border travel, communication and cooperation.
Adhering to the opening-up policy, China welcomes foreign nationals' engagement in study, business and trade, scientific research, academic communication, innovation, entrepreneurship and other activities in China. The National Immigration Administration will continue to provide convenient services for foreign nationals concerning their entry, stay and exit based on the new expectations and demands of applicants, so as to ensure normal Sino-foreign exchanges and better serve the high-quality development of the economy and society.