UK to further relax visa rules for Chinese
Updated: 2014-09-12 14:49
The United Kingdom is to relax its tough rules on visas for Chinese travelers, in a bid to appease UK businesses and China's leaders, the Telegraph reported.
Visitors from China can use the European Schengen visa when changing planes at UK airports, instead of being forced by current rules to obtain an expensive UK visa even though they often do not leave the terminal building. The change was due to be announced by UK Home Secretary Theresa May on Friday.
Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to London, had called for significant changes to the system, echoing concerns from UK business leaders, who claim the country is losing up to £1.2bn ($1.9 bn) a year due to the bureaucratic regime.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' owner International Airlines Group, claims the new measures do not go far enough, and would not significantly close the gap between the 291,919 UK visas and 1.4m Schengen visas approved last year.
The previous system announced in June allowed certain Chinese tour operators to use the Schengen form to also apply for UK visas, and also allowed Chinese visitors securing a visa for Ireland to visit the UK without going through a second application process.
The government insisted that previous improvements to the system for Chinese visitors had led to a 40 percent increase in numbers last year and June's changes would make it "easier than ever before to visit the UK".