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English>>Foreign Affairs

Chile relaxes visa policy for Chinese visitors

(Xinhua)    20:41, July 01, 2015

BEIJING, July 1 -- Certain Chinese visitors can enjoy visa-free access to Chile starting from Wednesday, after a new rule aimed at promoting tourism and trade between the two countries took effect.

Chinese tourists and business travellers no longer need a separate visa to visit Chile if they have visas for the United Statesor Canada that are valid for more than 6 months, the Chilean embassy in China announced Wednesday. Transit visas do no qualify.

The new policy allows Chinese visitors to stay in Chile for no more than 90 days and extend their stay for another 90 days after applying to local authorities.

It is the first time Chile has eased visa policies one-way for a specific nationality. China is Chile's biggest trade partner as well as largest buyer of copper products.

The two countries also eliminated tourist and business visa fees.

The changes were first announced during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Chile in May.

Chile hopes the new visa policy will promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges with China, and enhance mutual understanding and friendship, said Chilean Ambassador to China Jorge Heine.

A consular official with the Chilean embassy said Chile plans to gradually expand the coverage of their visa-free policy to Chinese travellers with Schengen visas or other countries' visas.

Chile saw 11,000 Chinese tourists in 2014, up from just over 6,000 visits in 2008, according to official data from Chilean tourism authorities.

Chile hopes the number will rise by more than 40 percent annually after the implementation of the new visa policy.

More Chilean visitors to China are also expected. Chilean citizens pay about 2,200 visits to China each year currently, Chile's official statistics show.

Several airlines have launched or are going to launch flights from China to Santiago, the capital of Chile, via the U.S. or Canada, the consular official said.

Chile was the first South American country to establish diplomatic ties and the first in the region to sign a free trade agreement with China.

Two-way trade between China and Chile reached 34.1 billion dollars in 2014, four times greater than before the signing of the pact in 2005.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Yao Chun)

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