Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

EU countries should remove visa barriers

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-13 07:39
With my passport and filled in landing card, I proceeded to immigration control at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow on Friday, where I handed them over to the officer on duty. She was about to check the visa pages of my passport, but I told her that mine is a "service" kind, and thus there was no need for me to apply for a visa. Not waiting for my further explanation, she said "I know", stamped my documents and let me through.

Holding this passport issued by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I have reported from Libya, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt in previous years and it has opened their doors to my short stays without me needing to apply for a visa.

Since late April, Chinese and Russians who hold such passports are allowed to stay in each other's country without a visa for a maximum of 30 days.

In September 2013, before I flew from Brussels, where I am based, to Moscow and St. Petersburg to report on the G20 summit, which President Xi Jinping was attending, I went through quite an annoyingly complicated visa application process.

But since relations between Beijing and Moscow have become closer, the procedure has quickened and been simplified, which is a positive step for China and Russia to deepen cooperation.

While Premier Li Keqiang and his ministers were said to have had fruitful consultations with their German counterparts in Berlin during his visit that began on Thursday. Among the many outcomes, one that hit the headlines was Germany's greater flexibility in allowing Chinese business persons and tourists to enter Germany more easily by offering more visa application convenience.

While focusing on more business and cultural exchanges, the premier has long been making efforts to make it easier for Chinese to travel to Europe. He requested an easier visa process when he visited the United Kingdom and Greece in June. And on the last leg of his current trip to Europe, Li is expected to put "fast track" visa applications on agenda in Italy as well.

If one looks back at the rounds of talks between Chinese and European leaders in previous years, China has long requested relaxed visa controls from European countries.

This sharply contrasts with the fact that China's diplomatic ties with many European countries are around 50 years old and they have called Beijing a "strategic partner" for around a decade. While in recent years, Chinese investments have started to soar in Europe amid economic recession and stagnation in many European countries, which have forced European politicians and businesses to seek partnerships with Chinese input to generate more jobs.

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