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Obama Opens Doors to Chinese Visitors

President Barack Obama said at the APEC Summit in Beijing that for Chinese citizens traveling to, going to school in, and working in the USA, "student and exchange visas will be extended to five years,” and “business and tourist visas will be extended to 10 years." The new arrangement of immigration law is both part of the President’s promised post-election-day package of reforms via executive order, and a goodwill gesture to the rest of Asia during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum occurring in Beijing seeking a fair-trade agreement between Pacific Rim countries.

US officials are calling this action by the President a “game changer.” Both the US and China seek an improved relationship with the other. Political and economic differences remain, and may always. China seeks wider trade through APEC, while the US similarly seeks broader trading agreements throughout the region.

The global competition for tourists, students and business people is fierce. Every country seeks to be considered the best place to visit, live in and in which to do business. As many as 7.3 million Chinese are expected to visit the US in the next seven years. However, China is growing, slowly opening its markets, and slowly improving its internal standard of living.

What’s more, China is poised to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy. As the Chinese people become more able to move around the world, they will seek the sights and sounds of the vast reaches of America. The US also seeks to reap the benefits of a China that’s stronger, more robust, and continually increasing its appetite for new resources.

According to the US Department of State, the new agreement will:

  • “Enhance mutual understanding between our countries, and benefit our economies by increasing the ease of trade and investment.
  • Be more convenient and less costly for travelers.
  • Make it easier and more convenient Chinese students to return home.
  • Underscore the U.S. commitment to promote bilateral tourism and trade and increase opportunities for people-to-people engagement.”

The US begins its new visa program Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

President Obama praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his role in making this deal possible. Both countries have much to gain from closer ties.