Several policies will be adopted by the Foreign Ministry to help the flow of personnel between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, a senior diplomat said on Feb 3.
The smooth flow of personnel is the basis for pushing the initiative forward, said Guo Shaochun, director of the ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs.
“We’ll focus on solving problems with issuing visas to outbound Chinese businesses travelers in 2016,” Guo said at an annual news conference on consular affairs. The Belt and Road Initiative is a vision put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013 to boost interconnectivity and common development along the ancient land and maritime Silk Roads. The Belt and Road Initiative links at least 60 countries and regions.
Guo also said the ministry handled nearly 80,000 cases of consular assistance and protection last year, one-third more than in 2014.
Some Chinese companies were awarded projects in the region, but personnel had been prevented from traveling due to visa problems.
Guo said these problems will be eased and the implementation of major projects will be guaranteed.
The ministry will make “concerted efforts” to discuss two-way business visa exemptions with some countries and provide more convenient visa arrangements for major cooperation projects with some other countries, he said.
Guo said the ministry will help Chinese companies operating overseas to build up security and protection systems and encourage them to make full use of local security companies, international insurers and rescue organizations.
“In 2015, the ministry handled nearly 80,000 consular protection and assistance cases, including about 100 major incidents,” Guo said.
He said that as of Feb 2, Chinese citizens could enter 53 destinations on their passports or obtain visas on arrival.
Kong Xuanyou, assistant minister of foreign affairs, said, “The ‘value’ of a Chinese passport has been steadily improved, and the holders’ dreams of being able to travel freely abroad are gradually becoming true.”
Hans Peter Fluckiger, first secretary at the Swiss embassy in Beijing, said China did “a great job” last year on consular work. Bilateral cooperation in this area had been improved largely by adopting mutual visa exemptions for holders of diplomatic passports in December.
Cao Yongfei, a marketing manager at China Tianchen Engineering Corp’s branch in Turkey, said, “As an overseas businessman, security risks are a primary concern when we enter a new country or region. “The main overseas business of Chinese enterprises is located in underdeveloped countries or regions, and the security risks in such countries are relatively high.”