Is it Safe to Use Chinese Products?

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Current

The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life.

From unnecessary tourist trips to Chinais currently due to ongoing entry restrictions advised against.

Epidemiological situation

The number of cases in China has stabilized at a low level. The National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide up-to-date and detailed figures.

entry

In principle, there is an entry ban for, among others, German citizens. German citizens with a valid Chinese residence permit for employment, personal affairs or family reunification are allowed to enter China with this. Holders of expired residence permits of this type can apply for re-entry at the responsible Chinese diplomatic mission abroad.
This regulation does not apply to German citizens residing in France, Belgium, Italy, Great Britain, Russia, Ukraine, India, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

In principle, entry is possible for holders of diplomatic, official, courtesy and C visas. New visas for other, individual entries into China will continue to be issued only for a certain, restricted group of people or for the purpose of residence (e.g. for the implementation of "necessary economic, technological and other projects"). In order to carry out the visa procedure, a so-called "PU invitation" must be obtained from the responsible Chinese local authorities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC will provide details and any updates.

Travel to China is basically only possible by direct flight. Transit trips, with Germany as the only stopover, can only be started if there are no direct connections to China in the country of departure.

All passengers entering China are required to have negative PCR and IgM antibody test results issued in the same consular district. If, for example, the PCR test was carried out in the consular district of the Chinese embassy in Berlin, the IgM antibody test must also come from there.

These negative test results must be uploaded via the "Health Declaration Certificate" website together with passport, flight ticket and valid Chinese visa or valid Chinese residence permit in order to receive a QR code that is issued by the Chinese diplomatic missions and is a prerequisite for entering China is. The test time must be no later than 48 hours before departure. The test results must type in the name and address of the test site and the type of blood sample. Only test results with blood drawn from a venous system will be accepted. Rapid tests are not sufficient. For transit flights to China, the two tests mentioned must be carried out in the country of origin and again in the country of transit and a green QR code must be obtained from the local Chinese diplomatic mission within 48 hours before departure and onward flight. The QR code is valid for 48 hours from the time the test is carried out. It is to be expected from the time the test is carried out, not the time of the result.

A health declaration must also be submitted on the Chinese customs website.

Travelers who have already been vaccinated are subject to the same requirements. In addition, the vaccination certificate or vaccination certificate must be uploaded. These must contain the following information: Name, gender, date of birth, name of the vaccine, date and place of the first and second vaccination, signature and address of the vaccinating agency.

Travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 and who have tested positive for IgG antibodies must contact the responsible Chinese diplomatic mission at least three weeks before departure.

Upon entry from Hong Kong A negative COVID-19 test from a recognized laboratory in Hong Kong must be presented and must not be older than 24 hours upon entry. In addition, a health declaration must be completed.

All persons entering from abroad, regardless of their nationality, are tested for COVID-19 at the place of first arrival and are subjected to a quarantine of at least 14 days in central facilities. The province of the inner-Chinese destination can provide different regulations, such as additional quarantine times after the above-mentioned period or the possibility of a home quarantine. Any costs incurred for quarantine, test and other measures must be borne by yourself.

Small children are usually placed with one parent. Children aged 14 and over can be accommodated in isolation from their parents. The quarantine conditions in the hotels, in particular the strict ban on leaving the room for a period of two weeks, are particularly stressful for children and the elderly.

Despite negative PCR and IgM antibody tests and the green QR code, people with a cured COVID-19 disease are immediately placed in hospital quarantine for several weeks and subjected to extensive examinations upon arrival. This can also affect people who still have antibodies due to an undetected disease of COVID-19. The same can apply to people who entered on the same flight as a person who z. B. is then tested positive for COVID-19. Medical measures on the Chinese side are invasive and often include computed tomography recordings in addition to sometimes daily blood samples. The regular central quarantine with further tests can only be started when the treatment centers assume a recovery. If there is renewed suspicion, they are immediately transferred back to hospital isolation.

Incorrect information about the state of health can be prosecuted.

Further infection law measures for movements of foreigners within China are handled very differently and inconsistently in the provinces, cities, urban and residential districts; they are regularly subject to changes and adjustments at short notice.

The German representations in China have no influence on the measures adopted in accordance with the infection protection regulations or on their implementation, even in individual cases.

Transit and onward travel

Transit stays of foreign nationals in China, for example for onward flights out of China, and the previous visa-free stay for a few days in certain cases are suspended.

Closures or temporary openings of international border crossings (land, sea, air) as well as restrictions on the movement of people and / or goods are dependent on the current development of the corona pandemic and are ordered in individual cases by the responsible National Immigration Administration (NIA) . Restrictions in cross-border travel can therefore be expected for the time being, which may also come into effect at short notice.

Travel connections

There are still considerable restrictions on air traffic on a few flights and airports.

Direct flights between Beijing and Greece, Denmark, Austria and Sweden take place irregularly. International flights to Beijing can still be rerouted to other airports in China at short notice, some of which are far from Beijing.

The direct air traffic between China and Germany is partly served by Chinese airlines (e.g. Air China, China Eastern) and Lufthansa (connections from / to Chengdu, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenyang). However, the number of direct flight connections is still very limited.

Restrictions in the country

If local outbreaks occur, curfews and travel restrictions can be expected in the affected areas.

To visit some tourist attractions / national parks, it is often necessary to make an appointment by name. Hotels and other accommodation facilities sometimes require negative COVID-19 test results or evidence of how long ago you entered China at check-in. Foreigners can occasionally be denied access.

Entering many buildings, train stations, other compounds and also using public transport are sometimes only possible with a health application that differs from city to city and is based on the WeChat or Alipay app. Access is only permitted if this generates the correct color code. Occasionally, rail travel is only permitted upon presentation of a negative COVID-19 test. In some cases, the relevant health code is required when entering another province or city.

Traveling in China may also require the installation of additional apps, e.g. because special local health codes are required or in order to be able to trace all whereabouts in the last 14 days.

Hygiene rules

Masks are required in public transport and in numerous buildings. Temperature measurements at building entrances are still common. Distance rules can hardly be observed in densely populated metropolitan areas.

  • In your travel plans, take into account some serious, state-ordered medical measures. This is especially true for people who have recovered from COVID-19.
  • When entering the country with children, please note that Chinese regulations stipulate that if the test is positive, minors may not be looked after and visited by their parents in the hospital after entry and check your travel plans if necessary.
  • Inquire in good time before departure at the Chinese diplomatic missions and the airline operating the flight about the exact entry and transport conditions.
  • Note the information on connecting and transfer flights, as well as information on the health certificate to be filled out on the website of the Chinese embassy in Berlin.
  • Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations and also follow the instructions from local authorities. High fines can be imposed if the hygiene regulations are violated.
  • Find out more from the National Health Commission of the PRC.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or come into contact with infected people, contact the local health department.
  • Please note the registration, quarantine and test requirements when entering Germany from risk areas (not transit) and contact the health department at your place of residence. Please also note that all air travelers are required to test before entry, regardless of their place of departure. The Federal Ministry of Health offers further information on compulsory testing.

  • Please note our continuously updated information on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.

security

terrorism

In the past, minor attacks and knife attacks were carried out, particularly in public places and train stations. Foreigners were not the target and were not harmed. The risk of attacks is heightened in the Xinjiang region.

Domestic situation

Xinjiang region

The Chinese government has significantly tightened security measures in the region since spring 2014 as part of an anti-terror campaign. When using public transport (buses, trains), the same safety regulations apply as at airports. Bringing liquids (including drinking water, cooking oil, yoghurt) as well as lighters and fireworks is prohibited. The police presence was massively increased.

Stricter controls are taking place particularly in cities or at their access points and main traffic arteries. The freedom of movement is restricted. Personal, passport and baggage checks at access points to markets, parks and public spaces, among others, are the rule. Foreign travelers must show their passport at police checks, give their telephone number and have themselves photographed. In-depth interviews by security forces, even after checking into hotels, must be expected. When taking photos and filming, also with the smartphone, make sure that no police or security forces or installations are photographed. Failure to do so may result in temporary arrest.

Arrests and passport withdrawals have been increasing in Xinjiang for months. People of Uighur descent are particularly affected.

  • Be especially careful when traveling to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
  • Do not take photos of police or security forces or installations.
  • Count on the control of smartphones and cameras as well as surveys by security forces.
  • You can expect a stricter check when entering China.
  • Keep this in mind especially if you are of Uighur descent or have close private contacts in Xinjiang.

Rest of the country

Demonstrations are illegal without government approval, but they do take place occasionally. Participants may face serious legal action against them.
In the event of violent clashes, foreigners are threatened with arrest and imprisonment for an indefinite period, or at least with the withholding of their passport for an indefinite period.

Access to the Internet is controlled by the state. Access to various online offers is blocked, including those from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and others. The use of VPN services to circumvent the state internet censorship in China is prohibited, see also Criminal law.

  • Avoid demonstrations and large crowds.
  • Follow the instructions of local security guards.
  • Do not use VPN services.

crime

The overall crime rate is low and acts of violence are very rare.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing and robbery, e.g. of smartphones, as well as various forms of fraud, scams and excessive credit card bills and prices for services are widespread. Sometimes aggressive smugglers and black market traders offer them, for example, as taxi services in the arrival area of ​​airports, as travel guides, artists, but also for sexual services, as well as often counterfeit or non-functional goods at unrealistic conditions.

Attacks on foreigners are seldom known, but cannot be ruled out even in well-guarded places.
In Shanghai and Beijing in particular, tourists are often offered a joint visit to tea houses, karaoke bars, massage parlors or the like by mostly younger Chinese, who usually speak English very well.
In bars and nightclubs in major cities, foreign visitors are more likely to have narcotics mixed into their drink and then robbed.
Fraud attempts are also made over the telephone, with callers sometimes posing as police.

  • Keep your money, driver's license, flight tickets and other important documents safe and always carry your passport with a valid visa with you.
  • Reject dubious offers consistently or ignore them and use the signposted taxi stands or public transport.
  • Be particularly vigilant in large crowds such as at airports, train stations, on the subway and on the bus, and watch out for your valuables.
  • Never leave drinks unattended and check prices before ordering.
  • Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances. Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.

Nature and climate

Earthquakes and volcanoes

Large parts of China are in a seismically active zone, so that earthquakes and volcanic activity can occur. Several strong earthquakes have occurred in southwest China, particularly in Sichuan Province, in recent years.
After a severe earthquake in early August 2017, the Jiuzhaigou National Park is completely closed again after an initial, partially restricted opening.

Heavy rain and tropical storms

The climate is continental in the north and subtropical in the south.
Heavy rains, as they are the rule in the rainy season from June to October, regularly cause landslides in the mountains in this area, with fatalities.
The south and southeast of China are regularly hit by typhoons from June to October, which can cause flooding and dangerous landslides.

Travel info

Infrastructure / traffic

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

There is a good domestic flight network, partly very modern rail connections partly with high-speed trains as well as modern underground trains in big cities. There are also inexpensive taxis in all major cities.
It is forbidden to carry liquids of any kind in hand luggage on both domestic and outbound international flights. This does not apply to small quantities for cosmetic purposes (100 ml per variety), which must be transported in a resealable plastic container (transparent). You will be checked by the security staff. Batteries and rechargeable batteries (e.g. for cameras) may only be transported in hand luggage. Tax-free alcohol items purchased on international airplanes or airports must be transported in a sealed, transparent bag. The purchase receipts must be kept ready for inspection. The quantitative limit results from the customs regulations (max. 1,500 ml per person). Liquid medicines may be taken on board after checking.
Bringing lighters and matches is prohibited on both domestic and outbound international flights - this applies to both hand baggage and checked baggage.
Otherwise, the usual restrictions apply to bringing weapon-like objects (knives, scissors, etc.) in hand luggage.

The hotel's business card makes it easy to return by taxi if travelers do not speak Chinese.

Road traffic poses a high risk potential both in and outside of the cities. The reasons for this are the increasing number of road users and an often unsafe or even reckless driving style.
The 0 per mille limit applies, i.e. drinking and driving is a criminal offense and is severely punished. In the event of traffic accidents involving foreigners, they will generally withhold at least their passport for an indefinite period regardless of their fault, making it impossible to leave the country.

  • Be attentive and careful in traffic and only drive with drivers who are familiar with the area.

Driver's license

Foreign or international driver's licenses are not recognized in China. The German diplomatic missions in China provide information on the driving license procedure with contact details for the Chinese authorities responsible for the recognition of the German driving license.

LGBTIQ

Homosexuality is no longer a criminal offense in China. However, the legal status and protection of LGBTIQ have not been clarified, and everyday discrimination can occur. In general, acceptance is higher in metropolitan areas than in rural regions. Same-sex partners should generally appear discreet and reserved in public due to a lack of social acceptance.

Legal specifics

The import or possession of even relatively small amounts of any type of drug, including so-called designer drugs as well as khat, can lead to long prison sentences or even the death penalty (e.g. possession of up to 50g of heroin or 1kg of opium: imprisonment from seven years, death penalty when this limit is exceeded and generally in the manufacture, trade and transport of drugs, "if the circumstances are severe"). In China, death sentences are carried out on a case-by-case basis.

Foreigners can, among other things, be banned from leaving the country and the passport withheld by the police if they have been charged with a criminal complaint or if they can be questioned as a witness. This also applies to ongoing civil proceedings. Recently, longer-lasting exit bans have also been imposed in the event of civil business disputes.
If trading companies or other organizations are involved in a procedure, an exit ban can also be imposed on their legal representatives or on another person who is responsible for the company from the Chinese point of view. The German diplomatic mission abroad provides further information on legal prosecution in civil and commercial disputes in China.

Police stations can not only order fines of up to 5,000 RMB for 238 offenses, but also up to 15 days of arrest without a judicial decision.
These include disrupting public order, immoral behavior, prostitution (both prostitutes and clients are punishable), drug consumption (consumption outside of China can also be prosecuted if this is proven, for example, with a hair sample), illegal residence, etc. The law is also used against foreigners.
Lately, there have been an increasing number of cases in which foreigners are imprisoned for minor violations of legal residence regulations, even if they have previously been permitted to take up work or internship without the correct permit status. A compulsory release after the 15-day maximum imprisonment period is not necessarily guaranteed. In most cases, they are deported from administrative detention to Germany, often accompanied by re-entry bans for China.

With exceptions such as military objects, photography is not restricted. When taking pictures of people, you should first ask for permission. If in doubt, you should contact the travel companion. Video cameras and smartphones are allowed without special permission, but should be stated on the customs declaration.
Since December 2019, mobile phone contracts can only be concluded on site against ID and face scan; an analysis of a lot of user data can be assumed.

The use of so-called VPN services to circumvent state internet censorship in China has been prohibited since the new cybersecurity law came into force in 2017. A permanent blocking of the commercial, also non-Chinese VPN providers to bypass the censorship has not yet taken place. A specific date on which such a ban is to come into force has not yet been communicated.
Even if there are no known cases in which foreigners have been prosecuted for using VPN services, there is still a potential risk of prosecution at any time, even with temporary detention.

  • Do not carry any objects with unknown content that third parties can access.
  • Do not use VPN services.

Money / credit cards

The local currency is the renminbi yuan (RMB). Withdrawing cash from ATMs is possible with all major credit cards, but only in larger cities. German bank cards can only be used to a very limited extent at ATMs. In any case, you should have credit card and / or cash on hand, as payment by electronic means via the relevant social services is generally not necessary for foreign tourists.

Entry and customs

Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.

Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being informed beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information that goes beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
You can find the customs regulations for Germany on the German customs website and via the “Customs and Travel” app, or you can inquire about them by telephone.

Travel documents

Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Temporary passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Provisional identity card: No
  • Children's passport: Yes

Comments / minimum remaining validity:
Travel documents must be valid for six months at the time of the visa application and contain at least two visable pages.
Foreigners over the age of 16 must be able to identify themselves at any time with a passport with a valid Chinese visa. Police controls are possible at any time, especially in the course of increased security measures in the vicinity of major events or memorial days.

visa

To enter the People's Republic of China, a visa is required, which must be applied for in person at the Visa Application Service Center - since December 16, 2019, by recording biometric data (submission of fingerprints). There are additional fees for this.
A visa is only required for trips to Hainan as described below, certain transit trips and group trips under certain conditions and not prior to travel.
At Chinese airports, people who do not have a required, valid entry visa for the PRC are generally not issued visas, but are regularly refused entry.

According to current Chinese immigration law, the visa application must be submitted in the country of citizenship or habitual residence (which must be proven in the visa procedure). Evasion to third countries (including Hong Kong) is only possible if there is a permanent, legal residence there.

Applicants whose passports were issued after January 1, 2014 are sometimes required to present their previous, expired passport together with their current passport when applying for a visa. If the old passport has been withdrawn, a signed declaration stating the time and place of residence must be submitted.
Furthermore, the declaration must include which countries have been visited in the last three years and the duration of the respective stay. It is not yet clear how long this stricter practice will last.

Visa-free entry to Hainan Province

German citizens who only want to visit the island of Hainan have the option of visa-free entry for a stay of up to 30 days. Prerequisite is the initiation of immigration formalities through an accredited travel agency in Hainan at least 48 hours before arrival. ExploreHainan provides a list of accredited travel agencies and further information.
Visa-free entry is only valid for visitors to Hainan Island. If you intend to continue your journey to other provinces of the PR China, a visa must be obtained beforehand, which, as an exception, should also be possible in the Public Security Bureaus on the island of Hainan, but again requires the involvement of an accredited travel agency.

Visa-free transit

There is no requirement for a visa for purely one-time airport transit of up to 24 hours.

Some cities and regions also offer German citizens the option of a visa-free transit stay limited to 72 or 144 hours.
The prerequisite for all visa-free transit stays is entry via one of the specified border control points and exit to a third country that is not the country of departure.
A ticket for the connecting trip and a visa that may be required for the third country must be presented upon entry.
An onward journey with a connecting flight within China and the subsequent departure to a third country are not permitted under this regulation.