Bei­jing, Tian­jin, He­bei to of­fer 144 hours visa-free

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By JING SHUIYU and ZOU SHUO

The cities of Bei­jing and Tian­jin, along with He­bei prov­ince, will al­low 144-hour visa-free en­try for na­tion­als from cer­tain coun­tries and re­gions by the end of 2017, a vice-mayor of Bei­jing said on Thurs­day.

The move is par t of the na­tion’s long-term com­mit­ment to mod­ern­ize and up­grade its ser­vice in­dus­try.

Cheng Hong, a vice-mayor of Bei­jing, said t he pol­icy will ex­tend the visa-free time f or trav­el­ers from some coun­tries who want to visit the three ar­eas. Cur­rently, the max­i­mum stay in Bei­jing and Tian­jin is 72 hours.

The pol­icy ad­just­ment will fa­cil­i­tate “the free cir­cu­la­tion of re­sources” in the Bei­jing-Tian­jin-He­bei re­gion, Cheng said.

In 2016, Shang­hai, joined by Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang prov­inces, took the lead in per­mit­ting 144hour visa-free en­try, which gave for­eign vis­i­tors from 51 coun­tries and re­gions more t han enough time to travel or at­tend con­fer­ences in the re­gion.

Cheng made the re­marks at a news con­fer­ence on a com­pre­hen­sive pi­lot plan, which the State Coun­cil pro­mul­gated i n late July, to fur­ther open up the cap­i­tal’s ser­vice in­dus­try.

Un­der the plan, the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will re­duce in­vest­ment re­stric­tions in ma­jor ser­vice sec­tors, in­clud­ing avi­a­tion, cul­ture and arts, pub­li­ca­tion, banks, le­gal ser­vices, tourism and med­i­cal re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

By stream­lin­ing reg­u­la­tions, Bei­jing ex­pects to of­fer one-stop ser­vice to for­eign in­vestors con­sid­er­ing the cap­i­tal by the end of this year.

For­eign in­vestors who in­tend to set up a busi­ness in the city are now re­quired to ob­tain about 15 li­censes and cer­tifi­cates is­sued by 11 de­part­ments. The ma­te­ri­als in­clude an ad­min­is­tra­tive li­cense, in­for­ma­tion col­lec­tion and man­age­ment fil­ings.

“Within this year, they will just need one sin­gle li­cense,” Chen said. “By shar­ing re­peated ba­sic in­for­ma­tion among dif­fer­ent de­part­ments and mak­ing the regis­tra­tion pro­ce­dures avail­able on­line, the whole process will only take five work­ing days.”

For years, China has been work­ing to shift its econ­omy to­ward a growth model based on con­sump­tion, ser­vices and in­no­va­tion.

De­scrib­ing Bei­jing as a test­ing ground for the na­tion­wide open­ing-up of the ser vice sec­tor, Wang Shouwen, vice-min­is­ter of com­merce, said: “We can ex­pect new progress and break­throughs in eas­ing mar­ket ac­cess, speed­ing up in­sti­tu­tional re­form and es­tab­lish­ing sup­port­ive sys­tems for the sec­tor.”

In 2016, China’s ser­vice sec­tor ac­counted for 51.6 per­cent of the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, up 1.4 per­cent­age points from a year ear­lier, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics.

For Bei­jing alone, the added value of its ser­vice sec­tor was around $292 bil­lion in the same pe­riod.

Con­tact the writ­ers at jing­shuiyu@ chi­

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