China and Canada to grant each other's citizens 10-year visas: Beijing

BEIJING (AFP) - China and Canada will grant each other's citizens visas valid for up to 10 years, Beijing's Foreign Minister announced on Sunday.

The agreement, which goes into force on Monday, comes as Western countries increasingly seek Chinese business and investment, and mirrors one with the United States announced last year.

"China and Canada have just reached an agreement issuing visas to each other's citizens with the validity period of up to 10 years," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, the country's Communist-controlled Parliament, in Beijing. No other details were immediately available.

Ottawa last year cancelled a permanent residency visa scheme for foreign investors popular with wealthy Chinese, thousands of whom reportedly had applications pending.

Every year Chinese travellers make more than 100 million "outbound" trips, tourism authorities say.

While most go to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, they represent a growing and increasingly coveted source of high-spending visitors in destination countries.

Beijing and Washington announced in November a reciprocal deal to extend student visa validities to five years, with business and tourist visas stretched out to a decade, up from one year now.

The announcement came during a visit to China by US President Barack Obama.

There were 1.8 million Chinese visitors to the US last year, Mr Obama said, contributing US$21 billion (S$29 billion) to the economy and supporting more than 100,000 jobs.

"This agreement could help us more than quadruple those numbers," Mr Obama said at the time, describing it as an "important breakthrough which will benefit our economies, bring our people together".

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