BCECC Newsletter: Update about travel restrictions to China (for Belgian citizens)

A new year has started, but unfortunately, about two years after the first Covid-19 outbreak, we are not yet able to report to you the good news that you will be able to travel to China again soon, at least not without strict quarantine measures (2 to 3 weeks in a hotel upon arrival in China), regular testing and other stringent measures and administrative hassles.

The virus continues to mutate and cause disorder, with the Omikron variant now dominating in Europe and the Chinese government keeping up the zero-tolerance strategy to try to beat the virus. By December 2021, more than 1.1 billion Chinese people – or nearly 80% of the population – have been fully inoculated, mostly with vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac.

With the Chinese New Year and the Beijing winter Olympics coming up soon, it is not expected that the Chinese government will loosen its policies to fight the virus any time soon. Belgian businesspeople will need to be patient before being able to travel to China again to meet with their Chinese partners, customers and suppliers or to visit exhibitions.

Over the past few months, Chinese authorities have taken stringent measures to curb local outbreaks, often at great economic cost and disruption to daily lives. For example, since 23 December 2021, the city of Xi’an has been under strict lockdown. Residents are forbidden to leave their homes, unless it’s for Covid-testing. It is said that this is the second strictest lockdown in China since the Wuhan lockdown in early 2020.

During the past year, direct flights from Belgium to China were only possible through Hainan Airlines from Brussels to Xi’an. However, due to the recent outbreak in Xi’an, all Hainan flights to Xi’an are now suspended and new destinations in China are being investigated.

Travel visa to China can still be obtained, but only under specific circumstances. If you still consider applying for a visa and travel to China in the following months, we advise you to contact the Chinese Embassy in Brussels (http://be.china-embassy.org/eng/) and follow the recent news updates of the Belgian foreign affairs office:

Here are some other tips and suggestions:

  1. Consult the Hainan Airlines website for flights from Brussels to China:
    https://www.hainanairlines.com/BE/GB/Home 
  2. Registration on the Health Code platform:
    https://www.mfa.gov.cn/ce/cebel/eng/sghd/t1831073.htm
  3. Link to the statement of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium for the latest testing requirements: https://www.mfa.gov.cn/ce/cebel//chn/lsfw/aqtx/t1904492.htm (open the Chinese links in Google chrome, right-click anywhere on the page to “translate webpage”).
  4. Choose a reliable lab that can do PCR and anti-N antibody testing in case needed (this is a special requirement for people who did not get the Chinese vaccine). We suggest you add the WeChat ID 13761894720 with the request “please add me to the Belgium – China travel group”. This is a Wechat group where the latest updates on the labs are available and where you can get practical support from other Belgian travellers who succeeded before.
  5. Upload results to the Health Declaration platform: https://hrhk.cs.mfa.gov.cn/H5/, upload pictures rather than pdf files.
  6. Make sure you have enough RMB in your WeChat or Alipay to pay for a few weeks of quarantine in the Chinese city of destination.
  7. If possible, try to get an active Chinese SIM card.
  8. After arrival in the Chinese destination city, contact the airline to get a flight to your final destination (cost 100 RMB).
  9. Continue following up local quarantine requirements, as they may change on a regular basis.

Please contact the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in case you need more information.

Other sources: