China and Thailand to Waive Visa Requirements for Each Other's Citizens

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The Facts

  • Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Tuesday announced that Thailand and China will permanently remove visa requirements for each other’s citizens starting in March.

  • Thailand granted visa-free entry to Chinese citizens in September 2023, so as to revive a tourism industry that has been struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the policy having been set to expire on Feb. 29, a permanent extension of the programme has been agreed upon.

The Spin

Pro-China narrative

The announcement of permanent visa-free travel between Thailand and China is great news for both countries, their citizens, and their economies. The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the global economy, and Thailand’s reliance on tourism made it especially vulnerable to travel restrictions. This new program will allow Thailand to benefit from wealthy Chinese tourists and promote strengthened ties between the nations.

Anti-China narrative

China is desperate to inject life into its struggling economy in order to overcome its bungled COVID recovery. Most of the attention of the visa waiver program is being diverted to Thailand’s tourism sector, but China’s self-imposed isolation for three years caused its once-thriving tourism industry to crater. China has dropped most of its austere COVID policies, but its economy has not rebounded as quickly as leadership thought — leading to visa waivers and other attempts to desperately promote prosperity.

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