Constantly updated information about the situation in China with focus on the general situation, movement of goods and movement of people.
A quick overview of the affected areas. Please find more detailed information below.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT SITUATION
Find latest information here at the State Council of P.R. China
China’s central and local governments have been rolling out a series of supporting policies to shore up the confidence of businesses and ease some of their compliance burdens.
Measures announced by Central Government include:
- Tax & Fee Reduction
- The Ministry of Finance (MOF) published the notice on the extension of value added tax reduction applied to small-scale taxpayers
- After exempting value added tax, the Central Government further promotes tax deduction and gives SEMs an extension on paying income taxes
According to the State Council: 2020 Government Work Report (CN/EN),the government will continue to lower the VAT rate and the pension insurance rate for enterprises and cut taxes and fees by about RMB 500 billion (US$70 billion). Tax and fee reduction policies introduced early this year that are due to expire by June will all be extended till the end of the year. They include “exempting micro, small, and medium businesses from contributions to basic old-age insurance, unemployment insurance, and work injury compensation insurance schemes”, and “reducing or cancelling VAT for small-scale taxpayers”, among others. The payment of income tax on small and micro businesses and individual businesses will be postponed to next year.
HR & Social Insurance
- The Central Government suggests to strengthen the financial support to help businesses ensure employment
- The Central Government rolls out policies about value added taxes and inclusive financing taxes to further support SMEs
Foreign enterprises in China will equally enjoy the supportive policies, for instance phased tax cuts, postponed payments, deduction and waiver of social insurance fees, and discounts in utilities fees.
ECONOMIC OUTLOOK (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, EFFECTS ON INDUSTRIES)
Economic Development and Outlook
- China’s Economy Recovered Steadily in 2020 with Main Goals Accomplished Better Than Expectation. According to preliminary data, the gross domestic product (GDP) was 101,598.6 billion yuan in 2020, an increase of 2.3% over last year at comparable prices. The year-on-year GDP for the first quarter went down by 6.8 percent, up by 3.2% for the second quarter, 4.9% for the third quarter and 6.5% for the fourth quarter. By industries, the value added of the primary industry was 7,775.4 billion yuan, up by 3.0%, that of the secondary industry was 38,425.5 billion yuan, up by 2.6% and that of the tertiary industry was 55,397.7 billion yuan, up by 2.1%.
(Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China)
- China’s economy expanded by 2.3% in 2020, roaring back from a historic contraction in the early months of the year to become the only major world economy to grow in what was a pandemic-ravaged year. China’s growth makes it an outlier among large economies.
(Source: China Is the Only Major Economy to Report Economic Growth for 2020)
- China economy will grow by 7.9% in 2021, the IMF forecasts, down from its previous prediction of 8.2% growth made in October 2020. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has trimmed back its growth projection for the Chinese economy in 2021, citing headwinds from technological decoupling with the United States and domestic financial risks etc.
(Source: SCMP: China GDP: IMF cuts 2021 growth forecast)
Effects on industries:
COVID-19’s Grim Milestones: Impact on Business is Real but Opens Up New Growth Areas
- On impact: A very fair and local estimation conveys that the general sentiment on businesses involved in sales and production is largely negative – both over the short- and medium-term. 26 percent respondents (on average, China-based Chambers of Commerce) see a decrease of 20 percent revenue in their business for 2020 and one third of respondents see inevitable reductions of yearly targets.
- On opportunities: Several companies are not silently watching – they have adapted like chameleons to the situation and stretched their brand, reshuffled their production lines, and catered to new needs. In short, they have listened to the market and taken a risk or two, making COVID-19 the main propeller for new growth in some sectors and reviving dormant potential in others.
(Source: China Briefing COVID-19’s Grim Milestones: Impact on Business is Real but Opens Up New Growth Areas)
COVID-19’s Impact on China’s Industries
- Manufacturing: Weak external demand slowing down its recovery
- Healthcare: Production lines running at full capacity
- Civil aviation: Heavy losses to continue for some time
- Cross-border e-commerce: Unleashing huge potential in opening up new markets
- Restaurant and food service: This hardest-hit industry seeing a trend of recovery
- Tourism: Taking the biggest hit since reform and opening up
- Video game entertainment: Mobile gaming industry booming in spring
(Source : COVID-19’s Impact on China’s Industries)
After COVID-19: Rebooting Business in China
- The picture of recovery is hardly uniform. There appear to be real economic winners and losers in China coming out of this pandemic, and the trend continues to favor technology firms and large firms.
- While the Chinese government is helping companies recover from COVID-19, assistance is being extended to a variety of firms — e.g., Chinese companies as well as MNCs, and tech as well as non-tech firms. The amounts do not appear large and direct government aid is less frequent, which is in line with the information coming out that Beijing’s response is nowhere as large as in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.
- Companies in China are already bracing themselves for the fallout from deteriorating U.S.-China relations. Companies in China are already planning for decoupling by acting now to localize supplies. Thus, there may be a self-reinforcing cycle to this movement as positions harden and rhetoric around decoupling gains ground, inducing businesses in China — both local and multinational — to take concrete steps that further accelerate the process.
Movement of goods
There are no restrictions on the movement of goods.
- China has taken new measures to strengthen the quality control over exports of anti- epidemic supplies, including products for medical use, such as COVID 19 test kits, medical face masks, medical protective suits, ventilators and infrared thermometers, as well as non-medical use face masks. The suppliers are required to be included into the list of National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) and into the lists of Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medical and Health Products (CCCMHPIE). In addition, the exporters are required to provide additional documentation during customs clearance. More details, see S-GE website China and Switzerland: New customs conditions for medical goods.
- China issued new COVID-19 control guidelines for meat processing companies.
On July 23rd, 2020, China’s National Health Commission issued the guidelines after a series of COVID-19 outbreaks were linked to meat processing plants throughout the EU and Americas. According to the guidelines, imported meats products must have certificates for passing nucleic acid tests for the coronavirus, on top of other documents, certificates and records of inspections, before being processed in the Chinese plants. More details see the link.
- China increases efforts to block COVID-19 through imported foods
Risks of COVID-19 contamination through imported cold-chain foods are mounting in China. To minimize importation risks, related government departments of the country have rolled out measures to strengthen epidemic prevention and control. The State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 has unveiled a plan to realize full-chain, closed-loop, traceable management of imported cold-chain foods. They vowed to conduct complete disinfection of those products, novel coronavirus tests at the ports, and ensure all imported cold-chain foods entering the market are traceable. Under a circuit breaker mechanism, imports from a country or region would be suspended for two months if the novel coronavirus were detected in goods it sent. More details see the link
Movement of people
RESTRICTIONS ON ENTRY FROM SWITZERLAND
Suspending the entry of foreign nationals
From midnight (0 a.m.) of March 28, 2020, China suspended the entry of most foreign nationals, citing the temporary measure as a response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world. According to the announcement was made by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on March 26, foreigners who hold the following visas, even valid ones, are not allowed to enter China now:
- Chinese visa;
- Residence permit;
- APEC business travel card; and/or
- Port visa.
The ban also applies on those who are planning to enter the country under the following policies:
- 24/72/144-hour visa free transit policy;
- Hainan 30-day visa free policy;
- 15-day visa free policy for foreign cruise group tours through Shanghai Port;
- Guangdong 144-hour visa free policy for foreign group tours from Hong Kong or Macao SAR; and/or
- Guangxi 15-day visa free policy for foreign tour groups of ASEAN countries.
However, those who hold the following visas will not be affected:
- Diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visas; and
- New visa successfully applied for from Chinese embassies or consulates overseas after the announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Announcement on Entry by Foreign Nationals Holding Valid Chinese Residence Permits of Three Categories
- On 23rd September, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Immigration Administration of China has jointed released an announcement about lifting the entry ban on foreign nationals holding valid Chinese Residence Permits of three categories.
Effective from 0 a.m., 28th September 2020, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are allowed to enter China with no need for applying for new visas. If the above three categories of residence permits held by foreign nationals expired after 0 a.m., 28th March 2020, the holders may apply for relevant visas by presenting the expired residence permits and relevant materials to the Chinese embassies or consulates on the condition that the purpose of the holders’ visit to China remains unchanged. The above-mentioned personnel shall strictly abide by the Chinese regulations on epidemic prevention and control. Other measures in the Announcement issued on 26th March 2020 will continue to be implemented. While ensuring effective epidemic control, the Chinese government will continue resuming people-to-people exchanges in a step-by-step and orderly manner.Announcement published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China (in Chinese)
Announcement published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China (in English)
Invitation Letter (PU) for visa application in the COVID-19 period
The PU letter is an invitation letter issued during the epidemic that an inviting entity needs to receive from the relevant Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) in order to allow the invitee to apply for a visa in their respective country outside of China.
Only the foreigners who engage in necessary economic, trade, scientific and technological activities, as well as in urgent humanitarian assistance have the chance to come to China. Furthermore, only the senior managers of Medium & Large Enterprises or the technique researchers of key projects have usually a chance of obtaining the approval from local FAO.
The inviting entity in China need to apply for it from their local Foreign Affairs Office. As the PU Letter is a special requirement for the visa application in the COVID-19 period, it’s the sole discretion of the approval authority on whether to grant it or not. On average, the application process time normally will last for around one month.
International Flight Restrictions
- On 19. May, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a notice that it extends “Five Ones” policy until October 2020 if not longer and airlines should not sell tickets for flights that won’t take place. The “Five Ones” allow each Chinese airline to fly one route once a week to any one country. Foreign airlines can send one flight a week to one city in China.
- On 4. June, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) adjusted policies for International passenger flights, allowing more foreign carriers to resume flights to China on a once-a-week basis starting from 8th June key changes include:
- Foreign airlines that have been unable to operate flights to China over the past few months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic can choose a qualified Chinese city for entry
- Airlines can file their pre-flight plans with the CAAC for the period to Oct. 24, 2020
- CAAC will also introduce a reward and suspension mechanism, with detailed policies for the carriers to increase or suspend flights. If all inbound passengers of an airline test negative for novel coronavirus for three weeks in a row, the operating airline will be allowed to increase the number of flights to two per week. If the number of passengers testing positive reaches five, the airline's flights will be suspended for a week. The suspension will last four weeks if the number of passengers testing positive reaches 10. For example: Starting from 22. June 2020, China Southern flight CZ392 from Dhaka to Guangzhou will be suspended for 4 weeks, after 17 passengers onboard were tested positive for COVID-19 on 11. June.
China requires negative COVID-19 tests for inbound air passengers
On 21st July, the Civil Aviation Administration of China released a notice jointly issued with the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of efforts to curb cross-border spread of COVID-19 amid increased international travel. According to the notice, all passengers flying to China, whether Chinese citizens or overseas travelers, should take a nucleic acid test at medical institutions designated by Chinese embassies no more than five days before making the trip. Chinese air passengers are required to take photos of and upload the negative nucleic acid test results via an epidemic prevention mini program on China's WeChat instant messaging platform. Foreign travelers should apply for a declaration of health status from the Chinese embassy with a valid written report of a negative test result. The airlines will check health QR codes or health declarations ahead of departure, and travelers who fail to produce such codes or documents will be denied boarding. Passengers who provide false certificates and information will face legal liabilities.
The move came after the civil aviation regulator suspended several international flights recently for at least a week because some passengers on those flights tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Source: COVID-19 tests required for inbound passengers).
On 30th Oct., the Embassy of China in Switzerland released a “Notice on Airline Boarding Requirements for Certificates Of Negative Nucleic Acid and Anti-Body Blood Tests Results". According to the notice:
- starting from 20:00 on November 8, 2020 (Zurich Time), all Chinese and foreign passengers who are to fly from Switzerland to China will be required to take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests and then apply for a green health code with the "HS" mark or a certified health declaration form before boarding the flight. The specific requirements are as follows:
- Test Requirements
Passengers going to China via direct flights must take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests within 48 hours before boarding. They must take the tests at any qualified medical institution and then apply at the Chinese embassy/consulate in Switzerland for a green health code with the "HS" mark or a certified health declaration form with certificates of negative results of both tests.
Passengers going to China via connecting flights must take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests in Switzerland within 48 hours before boarding their flight to the transit country and then take both tests again in the transit country within 48 hours before boarding the plane to China. Passengers must apply at the Chinese embassies/consulates in BOTH countries for green health codes with the "HS" mark or certified health declaration forms with certificates of negative results of both tests.
- Chinese Passengers Applying for Green Health Code with the "HS" Mark
Chinese passengers must upload to the WeChat Health Code app photos of their negative nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests results, which will then be examined and verified by the Chinese embassy/consulates. Then they will get the green health code with the "HS" mark. Passengers must present the green code within its validity period to the airlines flying directly to China before boarding.
- Foreign Passengers Applying for Certified Health Status Declaration Code
Foreign passengers apply for Health Declaration Code, please refer to the "Notice on Online Application of Health Declaration Code for Foreign Passengers Bound for China" published on the website on November 9, 2020.
Please read the requirements carefully and follow them accordingly. Failure to obtain the green health code with the "HS" mark or a certified health declaration form with negative nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests results means you do not qualify for boarding the flight to China and will have to change your itinerary.
If you must go to China via connecting flights, please check the transit country's entry regulations and its nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests requirements beforehand. Failure to enter the transit country or meet the requirements regarding the tests, the green code or certified health declaration form could result in being stranded and heightened infection risks.
Notice published by Chinese Embassy in Switzerland (in English)
Notice published by Chinese Embassy in Switzerland (in Chinese)
- On 18th Jan. 2021, the Embassy of China in Switzerland released a “Notice on Adjusting Relevant Requirements for Nucleic Acid and Serum Antibody Testing and Reiterating”. According to the notice:
1. Starting from January 20th, the detection of serum-specific IgM antibodies must be done by professional medical staff through venous blood sampling. The test report must also clearly indicate the words Serum, IgM, and Venous. The notice must also clearly clarify the specific detection method, such as (1) Colloidal gold; (2) Chemiluminescence; (3) Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (4) For other detection methods, please also specify (Methodology: specific techniques).
2. Starting from January 20th, the nucleic acid test report must indicate nucleic acid (NAAT), Rt-PCR, etc., as well as specific sampling methods, including (1) Pharyngeal swab; (2) Nasopharyngeal swab; (3) Other testing methods, please also specify (Methodology: specific techniques).
3. The Chinese Embassy and Consulate in Switzerland will no longer issue health QR Code / Health Declaration Certificate for third-country passengers who do not live in Switzerland but temporarily entered Switzerland only for the purpose of the both tests. Passengers taking direct flights to China should actively show their travel ID documents when sampling. The testing agency should indicate the name, date of birth, travel ID number, and other essential information on the test report. Non-Swiss passengers should upload their Swiss residence certificate, including residence card, residence certificate, Swiss visa, or Meldebestätigung etc., while uploading the test reports.
4. Following the requirement of two times double tests for transit flights to China, passengers from a third country transiting to China via Switzerland should undergo the first time test for both PCR and IgM in the land of departure and obtain their health QR Code / Health Declaration Certificate at the Chinese embassy or consulate in the land of departure. After arrival in Zurich, passengers should take the second time test for both PCR and IgM in the transfer area of Zurich Airport as arranged by Swiss Airlines (See to the "Notice on double tests Arrangements in the transit area of Zurich Airport and Airline Boarding Requirements" on December 19th, 2020 by Consulate General's website in Zurich). Accordingly, they should apply for the second Health QR Code /Health Declaration Certificate.
5. Starting from January 20th, the Chinese Embassy and Consulate in Switzerland will only accept the test results from the published test agency (attached). The ChineseEmbassy and Consulate in Switzerland will verify the authenticity of the results with the testing agency. Passengers are requested to inform the sampling and testing agency to agree to announce the test results and personal information to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate during the test.
6. Passengers are requested to isolate themselves at home after sampling and testing, minimize contact with the outside world, and be sure to take personal protection during the trip to the airport not to affect your health and safety and travel to China.
7. For any inconsistencies with this notice in the notices, FAQs, and precautions previously issued, this notice shall prevail.
Notice published by Embassy of China in Switzerland (in English)
Notice published by Embassy of China in Switzerland (in Chinese)
- Regarding the arrangement of commercial flights, the Swiss company is advised to check directly with the airlines, i.e. Lufthansa, Swiss, Air China etc., because the situation is changing constantly.
- SwissCham has been cooperating with the German Chamber of Commerce, who has been organizing Charter flights from Frankfurt to Qingdao with the last flight planned for August 26. At the moment, there are no further flights planned on side of the German Chamber.
Entry Measures for Foreign Employees into Shanghai during the Travel Ban (Normal and Fast track channels)
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Shanghai Municipal Government have issued various measures to facilitate the entry into China of employees essential for business operations.
Currently there are two channels, a normal channel and a fast track channel, which is only available to employees of companies whose country of origin has signed a fast track agreement with China. Various countries’ embassies and chambers of commerce have been negotiating with the Chinese government to establish fast track channels. Till 3rd June, China has signed fast track agreements with Germany, France, South Korea, UK, Japan, and Singapore.
Detailed entry measures for foreign employees into Shanghai during the travel ban (normal and fast track channels) is available on the website of EUCCC
Entering China (Policies - in principle)
- The current quarantine policy applied for the inbound travelers is, that on arrival in China all inbound travelers (no matter Chinese or Foreigners) are required to undergo nucleic acid testing (NAT) & at least 14-Day-Quarantine (MANDATORY and at own costs!). Details please refer to EUCCC Travel Policies to and from Cities in China
- Beijing to implement '14+7+7' health observation for inbound travelers:
Beijing will extend the health observation period to 28 days for inbound travelers from overseas to avoid the import of COVID-19 cases, according to a press conference held by municipal authorities on Jan. 19, 2021. The new "14+7+7" model comprises the 14-day centralized medical quarantine, one week of home isolation or centralized quarantine, and another week of health monitoring. Inbound individuals through other domestic cities have to wait 21 days before entering the Chinese capital, and seven-day health monitoring is required after their entrance.
(Source: The State Council of China)
RESTRICTIONS ON MOBILITY WITHIN THE COUNTRY
• Quarantine policies in provinces/cities are implemented differently and will be adjusted continuously according to the development of the pandemic. Details and updates can be found at EUCCC Travel Policies to and from Cities in China and China Briefing China’s Travel Restrictions due to COVID-19: An Explainer