China will remove visa entry requirements for citizens of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia today.
The new conditions will last for one year and will apply to both business and tourist trips, according to a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry. The decision will facilitate travel to China for many foreigners to travel to China to an unprecedented extent, though the German ambassador to China expressed hope that the new rules would eventually apply to all EU member states.
The move is seen as an attempt by China to improve its global image, which has taken a hit recently due to its relationship with Russia amid the Ukraine war. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, views of China are largely negative across 24 countries, with a median of 67% of adults expressing unfavorable views of the country.
Compared to other EU member states, Germany has maintained an ambiguous stance on China as it hopes to maintain strong trade ties. The removal of visa restrictions will likely boost investment in China from German businesses like Volkswagen, BASF, and BMW. Longer term, closer trade ties with Germany may be integral in avoiding a China-EU trade war.
Madeline McQuillan is an Analyst for Foreign Brief and a contributor to the Daily Brief. Her expertise is in European politics and transatlantic relations. She holds a Master of Science in European and International Public Policy from the London School of Economics.