A reciprocal agreement between China and Canada on long-term
multiple entry visas of up to 10 years took effect on March 9. This
is a welcome change for Canadians who in the past had to deal with
a cumbersome and lengthy visa application process for visits to
The new 10-year visas are another sign of the continued
strengthening of the two countries' relationship. The new visas
are valid for up to 10 years subject to the visa holder's
passport expiration date and allows for stays of up to 180 days per
year in the visiting country.
Canadian proponents of the new 10-year visas tout that
applicants will benefit from reduced costs, red tape, and time
spent on visa applications. They will also benefit Canadian
businesses sending employees to China as well as the flow of
tourists to the country. Chinese-born Canadians, numbering 1.5
million, and Chinese foreign students, numbering 100,000, will also
benefit from greater mobility between their homeland and
Prior to the new visa, Canadians visiting China had to apply for
one-year single- or multiple-entry visas. The process was often
lengthy and cumbersome, especially for those living in cities where
there was no Chinese consulate.
Since 2013, the Chinese government has also granted visa-free
entry to Canadians upon landing for stays of up to 72 hours in the
main Chinese travel hubs. Some of the requirements include not
leaving the province or city of entry and providing evidence of a
departure flight from the same Chinese city to a destination in a
third country (a country other than the country of origin or
China). For example, the 72-hour visa exemption couldn't apply
to a short stay in China for a passenger coming from and returning
All told, the new 10-year multiple-entry visa and the 72-hour
visa-free entry are testaments to the continued growth in personal
and business connections between the two countries. The easier flow
of people in conjunction with the ongoing negotiation of trade
agreements will continue to reduce the number of barriers between
the two countries.
Trade agreements between both countries are also facilitating
the flow of investment between Canada and China. On October 1,
2014, the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement
between Canada and China came into force, establishing investment
rules between the two countries. Key aspects of the agreement
include non-discriminatory government treatment for investments
made by Canadian investors in China and vice versa; a defined
dispute resolution mechanism; and protection measures for damages
suffered by investors in each respective market. Government
officials in both countries tout the agreement as providing
certainty and predictability for investors in each country.
Negotiations also continue on the 12-member Trans-Pacific
Partnership that could eventually include China. And as the shift
towards Asian economies continues to grow, think-tanks and
businesses are asking for a bilateral free-trade agreement between
Canada and China in order to remain competitive with our peers.
Australia recently concluded negotiations with China on a
free-trade agreement that the countries are now preparing to
The visa reforms and trade agreements reflect a much more
visible shift in focus by policy-makers. The federal government
recently opened additional trade offices in China, bringing the
total number to 15 with 100 trade commissioners. Air traffic is
also increasing with additional flights and a long-awaited new
flight between Montreal and Beijing announced for the first half of
All of these changes demonstrate the ongoing shift in focus by
policy-makers and the growing opportunities for Canadians who
expand their networks to China.
This article was originally published by The Law Times on April
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