Over the weekend a Chinese friend whom I’ve known since he was a six-year-old boy in Beijing stopped by for a visit. In 2019, he graduated from university here in Minnesota. His parents came to help him celebrate. Since that summer he has gotten married, moved to a different state, started and completed a master’s degree, and started a PhD degree. What he has not been able to do is see his parents.
In March 2020, the doors to China slammed shut, and, like thousands of others, China’s two plus years of strict COVID control measures and the exorbitant cost of air tickets have made his travel there or his parents’ travel here impossible. And even if he did make it back, he would still have been looking at a long time of isolation between landing and actually getting home.
When he was here on Saturday, I asked him what the latest was concerning the possibility of a visit home. He excitedly told me about the new “seven plus three” policy. Those arriving in China now will only be subject to seven days of quarantine before having to undergo just three days of home isolation. “This is really exciting,” he told me.
In recent weeks there have been encouraging (even exciting to some) signs that the door to China is beginning to open, just a crack. It’s not at the scope and pace that many of us want, but hey, at this point we’ll take anything.
In June work visas became a bit easier to obtain or renew when the Chinese government dropped the PU Letter (invitation letter) requirement.
Earlier this month the government announced the “seven plus three” quarantine requirement. And that same directive said that it will begin to allow the resumption of international flights into Beijing. Gradually, over time, of course.
Anecdotally, we have also heard of more expats obtaining their visas and making plans to return. Even though the numbers are small, it is a hopeful sign. Let’s pray that continues.
Let’s also continue to pray for the thousands of Chinese who have not been home to see their families in three years and for the expats who long to resume their lives in the Middle Kingdom. May the doors continue to open.
Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio
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