The first ten-year travel visa with multiple entries have been issued to Americans just days after the US and China reached a deal on visas at APEC in Beijing, reported ECNS.
23-year-old researcher Edmund Downie was the first US citizen to receive the newly extended visa at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Under the agreement, student visas will be valid for five years, while tourist and business visas will be valid for ten years. The agreement does not change the length of time a visitor is allowed to stay in the country, but the validity of the visa itself. In other words, people will still only be able to stay for 30 days on each entry in most cases.
Visas for each country were previously only valid for one year.
“It eases the process of visa acquisition and makes it more affordable,” Downie said, while adding this will help Americans to learn more about China.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was present at a ceremony at the US Embassy in Beijing last week where the first ten-year visas were issued to Chinese citizens.
Kerry emphasized the mutual benefit both countries will gain, saying, ”This will pay huge dividends for American and Chinese citizens and it will strengthen both of our economies.”
Through this agreement, the White House hopes to attract more Chinese tourists as a way to boost employment and inject billions into the US economy. A White House statement said that by 2021, Chinese travelers will contribute $85 billion to the US economy and support 440,000 jobs. The agreement will also “quadruple” the current number of Chinese visitors coming to the United States.
Previously, China represented an untapped source of tourism for the US. The White House noted “Chinese travelers persistently rank the United States as their top desired travel destination, but only slightly more than 1.8 percent of total outbound travelers go to the United States.”
President Obama made the visa policy announcement at a speech during APEC in which he said he wanted China “to do well”, saying, “”The United States welcomes the rise of a prosperous, peaceful and stable China.”
In light of the many tensions between the two countries, President Obama also raised US concerns over China’s stubbornly fixed exchange rate, restricted markets, and press freedoms and human rights.
Obama also touched upon the protests happening in Hong Kong over universal suffrage, saying, ”Our primary message has been to make sure violence is avoided,” adding that the US would “continue to have concerns about human rights” in China.
President Obama emphasized he would stick to his ideals, saying, ”We’re not going to stop speaking out on behalf of the things that we care about.”