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Easier visas for foreign relatives entering China

    A new law set to go into effect June 1 aims to ease access for foreigners coming to China to visit relatives, according to a notice posted on the Ministry of Public Security's official website.

    The notice explains that foreign spouses of Chinese citizens, close family members of foreigners working or studying in China and certain classes of overseas Chinese will all be able to come to China via a much simpler process than before given a newly created residence permit category.

    Any foreigner currently seeking to visit family membersparents, children or spouseswill be to apply for a tourist visa valid for up to one year.

    The new class of residency permit also lifts restrictions on numbers of entries and raises the duration of each stay up to a maximum of two years.

    'The number of foreigners related to Chinese citizens who are coming to China to visit, seek refuge or support their immediate family members has increased in recent years,' reads the online announcement.

    The notice notes that the Exit-Entry Administration of the Municipal Public Security Bureau would bring the new regulations into effect by 'taking into account the actual needs of China.'

    Initial reaction to the news was greeted warmly on online forums frequently visited by expats in Beijing, though some questioned releasing the information only in Chinese and without explanations of many of the law's key points.

    A user named 'baiyunma' posting on thebeijinger.com titled a post: 'Spouses of Chinese citizens finally fully human.'

    'After 20 or more years of denial by the government, this is a step forward in admitting that those married to Chinese citizens who also wish to live in China are actually residents and not tourists,' wrote baiyunma.

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