China Eases Visa Rules to Entice Visitors to Take Homegrown Vaccines

March 15, 2021 Updated: March 17, 2021

Foreigners seeking to enter China can now get a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine shot to lessen their load of visa paperwork, the Chinese foreign ministry stated on March 15.

The new visa rule, which took effect on March 15, marks Beijing’s latest attempt to win international appeal for its homegrown vaccines.

Foreign travelers who visit China for work and their relatives would only need to provide documents required before the pandemic began upon presenting a vaccination certificate, according to a March 12 notice released by the office of China’s foreign commissioner in Hong Kong.

Zhao Lijian, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said at a March 15 briefing that the decision was made “with a view to resuming international travel in an orderly fashion.”

“China stands ready to advance mutual recognition of vaccination with other countries,” he said. While Zhao didn’t clarify how widely the visa relaxation would apply, similar notices have appeared on the websites of around a dozen Chinese embassies, including those in Israel, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam.

China’s regime has promoted its homegrown vaccines globally, exporting “vaccine aid” to 69 countries as of the end of February, while carrying out disinformation to discredit its vaccine rivals.

Chinese vaccine trials around the world have, meanwhile, received lackluster results.

In Brazil, the CoronaVac vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac was found to have a 50.4 percent efficacy rate, barely passing the threshold of approval under World Health Organization standards. In Indonesia, authorities said the CoronaVac shots were about 65.3 percent effective.

Tianjin-based CanSino’s single-dose vaccine reported a 65.7 percent protection rate. State-owned Sinopharm, another Chinese COVID-19 vaccine frontrunner, said in late December 2020 that its vaccine had a 79.3 percent efficacy based on interim data; that compares to the more than 90 percent figures from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the United States.

In March, Peruvians began an intense public debate about whether they should continue using the two vaccines developed by Sinopharm, after a Peruvian scientist revealed that the company’s vaccines are between 11.5 percent and 33.3 percent effective.

None of the Chinese drug makers have made detailed clinical trial data public.

Safety scares have also dealt setbacks to the regime’s vaccination efforts.

Hong Kong, which has distributed nearly 92,000 doses of CoronaVac shots to its residents, has recorded 69 cases of adverse reactions as of March 12 (pdf). At least seven people have died after taking the vaccine and two developed facial paralysis. The health authorities found no link between the deaths and the vaccine but are still looking into the paralysis symptoms developed by the two people.

Japan’s Olympic team has rejected China’s offer to inoculate its athletes even though the International Olympic Committee has agreed to purchase Chinese vaccines for the Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

“I don’t know of any Chinese companies that have applied for approval in Japan,” Tokyo’s Olympic minister told the nation’s public broadcaster NHK.

The United States has announced plans to work with its allies Japan, India, and Australia to boost COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chen Kuide, a dissident Chinese scholar, told The Epoch Times that the regime has made vaccine diplomacy one of its top objectives to “shut the mouth” of the recipient countries and block criticisms over the transparency around the virus origin.

“There could be a lot of backlashes, but that’s beyond what they can deal with, because this is the most immediate issue,” he said.