The visa deal agreed by China and the United States will benefit about 80 percent of travelers between the countries, a Foreign Ministry official said on Nov 14.
It will also be used as a template to make similar arrangements with other developed countries, Huang Ping, director general of the Consular Department said at a news briefing.
The new agreement will extend the validity of B-1, B-2 and B-1/B-2 visas to 10 years from one year for Chinese citizens traveling to the US for business or leisure, Huang said. US citizens applying for tourism, business and visiting visas will enjoy a reciprocal arrangement.
A B-1 visa is for business and a B-2 visa for tourism, while a B-1/B-2 covers both.
Chinese Foreign Ministry statistics show that 4.05 million people traveled between China and the US last year and 70 to 80 percent of them were businesspeople and tourists. “It means that an average of more than 10,000 people are traveling between the two countries every day,” Huang said.
He added that consultations will be continued to better facilitate short-term official visit visas and work visas in both countries.
“We are making step-by-step efforts to cover those who travel, for whatever purpose, with reciprocal polices,” he said.
“China has spared no efforts to promote visa facilitation with other countries. We hope the agreement with the US can set an example for future consultations between China and other developed countries.”
Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the reciprocal visa arrangement reflects breakthroughs China has made on visa applications with developed countries.
Huang said Canada is offering Chinese travelers 10-year visas for tourism, business and general visits (such as seeing relatives or attending a particular event). European countries, including Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, are also issuing long-validity visas to an increasing number of Chinese.
Jia Xiudong, an international affairs researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said visa facilitation is the result of growing demand, both in China and foreign countries.
“China’s stunning economic development has made it possible for more and more Chinese to travel abroad,” he said.
Huang admitted that the government’s work has not matched the growing demand from Chinese citizens for more convenient visas.
For example, the number of countries that have signed mutual visa exemption agreements with China for ordinary passport holders is relatively small, while requirements in some countries for Chinese visa applicants are quite stringent.