China yesterday issued its first-ever group of 10-year visas to US citizens staying in the country, following an agreement announced during the APEC summit in Beijing aimed at boosting trade and business ties between the US and China.
Twenty-three-year-old Edmund Downie became the first American citizen to get his hands on a 10-year visa with multiple entries at a Chinese Embassy in the US.
Under the new agreement, China and the US will grant business or tourist visas with maximum validity of 10 years to each other’s citizens. Student visas will be extended to up to five years, according to Xinhua.
From the US standpoint, the extended visas will help the country tap into the rapidly growing market of Chinese tourists traveling overseas with pockets full o’ renminbi. Currently, the US attracts only two percent of Chinese tourism, according to Reuters.
“We see this as a really big win,” [a senior U.S. official] said, estimating that the United States could gain 440,000 jobs by 2021 and receive an $85 billion annual infusion into the American economy as a result of the new policy.
It will also make it easier for Chinese businesses and investors to get involved in U.S. projects.
A second U.S. official said the political benefit of greater contact between Americans and Chinese would “get to some of the core sources of distrust and competition at the heart of the U.S.-China relationship”.
Earlier yesterday, at the US Embassy in Beijing, US Secretary of State John Kerry also handed out the first group of 10-year visas to Chinese citizens.
“You are literally helping to write the next great chapter of the history between the United States and China,” he told the new visa holders during a ceremony.