Don Davies: MP champion of the 10-year visa

Updated: 2015-04-09 03:34

By BEATRICE CHAO andMAYA LIU for China Daily(China Daily Canada)

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Don Davies: MP champion of the 10-year visa

Canadian Member of Parliament Don Davies talks about the 10-year visas in his Vancouver office. [WEIYUAN LI / FOR CHINA DAILY]

Don Davies, a Canadian Member of Parliament representing the riding of Vancouver Kingsway, was a key proponent of China and Canada's reciprocal agreement to grant 10-year multiple-entry visas to each other's citizens.

"About a year ago, Canada [started to] give Chinese nationals coming to Canada the privilege of 10-year, multiple-entry visas, but Canadians citizens had to apply for limited visas each and every time they went to China, so we thought that it would be an excellent policy to give Canadian citizens the same [visas]," Davies told China Daily.

He was the first Canadian MP to draft a petition on the 10-year visas. He presented Motion 558 in Parliament; the Canadian government then worked with its Chinese counterpart to obtain the 10-year visas for Canadians.

The agreement was announced by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a press conference in Beijing on March 8.

The visa will provide more convenience to Canadian passport-holders who travel across the Pacific Ocean frequently for business, family or vacations.

In 2013, an average of 2,000 people traveled between the two countries daily, and Davies expects that number to grow.

"Families who have relatives still in China can go back and forth much more easily, but it's also excellent for cultural and tourist exchanges, which is good for business," Davies said. "The more people that can move easily between the two countries, the better it is."

China became Canada's second-largest trading partner in 2014, so the multiple-entry visa "makes it much easier for Canadian business people going to China to take advantage of opportunities and conducted business", Davies said.

Davies accompanied David Johnston, Canada's governor general, on an official state visit to China in 2013, where he met with top Chinese leaders.

Davies believes that as China and Canada establish more exchanges, an uptick of Chinese interest in Canada will lead to more tourism revenue and economic benefits for Canada.

Prior to the agreement, Canadians who wished to travel to China had to apply for one-year single- or multiple-entry visas.

"Now they will be able to apply once for a 10-year multiple-entry visa, [and it will be] absolutely cheaper and more affordable for Canadians than it was before," Davies said.

"I expect [the visa application process] to be very streamlined; the Chinese Embassy has been quite efficient, [so are] the Chinese consulates across Canada," he added.

Since the 10-year visa policy went into force in Canada on March 9, it has received popular support.

"I've heard from many people already who have called our office and written to us to thank us for our work on proposing this 10-year visa, and they have told me that they had already started applying," Davies said.

As a Member of Parliament who focuses on Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Davies said he was thrilled that the government adopted the proposal, and he hopes to see developments in Chinese-Canadian bilateral relations.

"In particular, I would like to see the process for families here in Canada to bring their relatives over to visit, or employers to bring skilled workers over," he said.

With the number of Canadian passport-holders who can trace their origins to mainland China exceeding 1 million, the visa will increase people-to people ties.

"People of Chinese heritage comprise almost 40 percent of the riding I represent," Davies told China Daily, "so I take it as a special privilege and obligation for me to try to learn as much as I can about the political, economic, cultural and social issues between the [two] countries, and to strengthen those relations."

Davies and his colleagues are coming up with different ways to help foster ties between China and Canada. In light of China recently calling for countries, including Canada, to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Development Bank (AIIB), Davies suggested that Canada should participate in the bank's structuring process.

"I think [being a founding member of the AIIB] will help benefit Canadian businesses here, who will [then be able to] learn about [AIIB's future infrastructure] projects, and hopefully participate in them."

With the new visa policy jump-starting a new chapter in the relationship, Davies expressed his determination to promote exchanges in every field between the two countries.

"I hope to continue to have more accomplishments like the 10-year visa over the years ahead," he said.