China resumes issuing tourist visas for first time in 3 years

The Chinese government says it will resume accepting applications for tourist visas on Wednesday. The visas have been suspended for the past three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday that China will restart the review and issuance of all types of visas, including tourist visas.

The Chinese government halted entry of foreigners, excluding diplomats, in March 2020, but later began issuing visas in stages for business, educational and other purposes.

Beijing is apparently trying to promote international travel with the aim of revitalizing its economy, which was damaged by its strict "zero-COVID" policy and other factors.

However, visa waivers for Japanese tourists and business travelers who are in China for no more than 15 days remain suspended.

China has also announced it will allow outbound group tours for Chinese citizens to 40 more countries, starting on Wednesday. That brings the total number of countries to 60, but Japan is not on the list.