To make it easier for citizens from Singapore and Brunei to come to visit, China has decided to resume from Wednesday its 15-day visa-free entry policy for business, tourism, sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends and transit for citizens of the two countries who hold ordinary passports, China's Foreign Ministry announced at a regular news conference on Monday.
It is hoped that Singapore and Brunei can work with China to provide more convenience for personnel exchanges, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning.
According to Chinese Embassy in Singapore on Sunday, visas that have been issued to Singaporean citizens are still valid, and visa applications that have already been lodged will be processed normally.
Welcoming the announcement on Sunday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a Facebook post that the visa-free arrangement will facilitate people and business flow between the two countries and pave the way for deeper bilateral cooperation, especially following the upgrade in Singapore-China relations to an All-Round High-Quality Future-Oriented Partnership earlier this year during Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to Beijing.
China stopped issuing visas to foreigners in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and suspended the 15-day visa-free facility for Singaporeans.
The resumption of the visa-free policy proves that China's pandemic protection measures have returned to normal levels and sends a signal that China has resumed normal exchanges with the outside world, which will help break through the bottleneck in economic trade with the two countries, Xu Liping, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.
The timely resumption of the unilateral visa-free policy also demonstrates China's goodwill and willingness to strengthen cooperation with Singapore and Brunei, Xu noted.
With the resumption of work and production after the pandemic, it is believed that China and more ASEAN members will be able to achieve visa-free travel in the near future, experts said.