China is opening up visa-free rules for Europe and Asia. Why have Japan and the UK not made the cut?

by Zhao Ziwen at

In a move last year that surprised many, China made short visits visa-free for five European nations and Malaysia for a year starting December 1.

The departure from China’s usually strict entry requirements was expanded last month to cover Irish and Swiss nationals, after France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain in the first round.

In Southeast Asia, China has recently also signed mutual visa waiver agreements with Singapore and Thailand, after earlier reinstating a 15-day unilateral visa-free rule for Singapore and Brunei nationals that had been suspended during the Covid years.

Beijing has described the relaxations as designed to help “China’s high-quality development and high-standard opening up”, and said it will seek to open up more visa-free travel and expand reciprocal visa exemption deals.

However, its policy appears to be selective, with economic powerhouses Japan and Britain yet to be included in the scheme.