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14 Oct, 2014

EU countries should remove visa barriers for Chinese visitors

By Fu Jing

Beijing, (China Daily) 2014-10-13 – But the reality is that China needs the barriers removed and the doors to be opened first before such discussions can produce results. Li has been making efforts to accomplish this country by country.

Some may ask: Why do some European countries hesitate to remove visa barriers against Chinese investors?

The reasons vary. Many European countries, following the lead of the United States, are unwilling to treat a rising and powerful China as a true partner on ideological grounds. Even though their businesses need a fresh injection of vitality from China, some hesitate to relax visa rules and grant investment opportunities.

And some countries even use their visa policy as a means of leverage when dealing with China on other issues.

Such reasons do not match the beautiful sounding “comprehensive strategic partnership” they say they are forging with China.

However, Europe’s gloomy reality has forced countries to take radical and accelerated steps to cut such red tape in the hope of attracting more Chinese business and investment.

Some have moved faster than others, and in central and eastern Europe some countries have begun to implement a visa-free policy similar to that between China and Russia, in addition to their friendly measures towards business, tourists and students.

Now, even advanced economies such as the UK, Belgium and France have decided to speed up the visa process for Chinese.

For real strategic partners, freer movement should be granted without such negotiation. And for fruitful cooperation, it is about knocking on and opening the door at the same time. China has done that for years.

Now that China is proposing to connect Asia and Europe, if they are true strategic partners, Brussels and other European capitals should match their ambitious words with action, and think about ways to promote that connection. One of the ways is to remove the visa hurdles.

The author is China Daily’s chief correspondent in Brussels. Email: fujing@chinadaily.com.cn