BEIJING: China and Singapore have reached a landmark agreement enabling a 30-day visa-free travel arrangement between the two nations.
The arrangement is slated to commence on 9 February, just in time for the Chinese New Year holidays.
The bilateral agreement was officially signed on 25 January by representatives from both countries.
Under the terms of the deal, ordinary passport holders from Singapore and China can enter each other’s country without the need for a visa, allowing for a stay of up to 30 days.
This initiative was first unveiled in December 2023 during a high-level meeting between officials from both nations.
The visa-free arrangement will “enable more people-to-people exchanges, thereby fortifying the bedrock of our bilateral relations,” Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said during the meeting at the 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the foremost bilateral platform between the two countries, held on 7 December.
Previously, China had reinstated a 15-day visa-free policy for Singaporeans in July 2023, after a suspension of more than three years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The subsequent announcement of the 30-day visa-free scheme further underscores the commitment of both countries to facilitating smoother travel procedures.
According to reports from Chinese media, this agreement brings the total number of countries with which China has established comprehensive mutual visa exemption arrangements to at least 22, with Singapore being a key partner in this endeavour.
However, it’s important to note that travellers from both countries who want to work or stay longer than 30 days will still require a visa, as highlighted by China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
The timing of this visa-free arrangement, coinciding with the Lunar New Year celebrations, is expected to facilitate increased travel between the two nations, particularly amidst efforts to revitalize tourism post-pandemic.
After the year 2019 saw over 3.5 million Chinese tourists visiting Singapore, the number of arrivals has yet to return to those pre-pandemic levels in the wake of Covid-19.
Chinese New Year falls on 10 February this year.
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