Beijing opens borders to Filipinos vaccinated with China-made COVID jab

Great Wall of China. Photo: Hao Zhang/Unsplash
Great Wall of China. Photo: Hao Zhang/Unsplash

Have you received any of the Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, legally or (ehem!) the smuggled ones?

Well, you’re in luck because the Chinese embassy announced yesterday that it will start processing visas of Filipinos who have received any Beijing-made COVID-19 vaccine.

“To make visa facilitation arrangements for foreigners fully vaccinated with Chinese COVID-19 vaccines is a helpful effort and try, based on full consideration of safety and efficacy, to facilitate the cross-border personnel exchanges after massive vaccination,” the embassy said in an online statement.

Read: Finally! PH begins COVID-19 vaccination after arrival of donated vials from China

Visa applicants should present vaccination certificates, and those who are “traveling to China for [the] necessary resumption of production and business activities” should prepare documents that are in accordance with the requirements set before the start of the pandemic.

The embassy also expanded the scope of applicants for  “emergency humanitarian needs.” It will now include “[f]oreign family members of Chinese nationals or foreign nationals with Chinese permanent resident permit, including spouse, parents, children, and other dependent close relatives (siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren), traveling to China for [a] family reunion, family-supporting, family visit, funeral of relatives or visiting relatives in critical medical condition.”

Meanwhile, those who hold a valid APEC Business Travel Card can apply for an M visa but they should present an invitation from the organizations that have invited them to China.

The embassy said it will “pay close attention to the vaccination progress” and the issuance of vaccination certificates in the Philippines. It reminded China-bound travelers that they still have to present negative swab and antibody tests before departure.

Read: Pinoys’ foreign spouses and children to be allowed entry into PH starting Dec. 7

“The Chinese embassy will keep close contacts with the relevant Philippine authorities on establishing a mechanism for verifying vaccination certificates, discussing a mutual recognition mechanism for international travel health certificates, to facilitate healthy, safe and orderly bilateral personnel exchanges,” it said.

It was in November when the embassy said that China will ban all travelers coming from the Philippines to control the spread of COVID-19.

Beijing has donated at least 600,000 dosages of Sinovac to the Duterte government, which arrived early this month. Those were the first legally available vaccines in the Philippines. Before that, President Rodrigo Duterte’s bodyguards had themselves injected with smuggled doses of China-made Sinopharm vaccines in October 2020.

Duterte had defended his men from critics and ordered them to “stay put in the barracks” and not show up should they be invited to a Senate investigation.

 

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