11 Aug 2004

China asks for visa changes for Chinese visitors to the Pacific

11:04 am on 11 August 2004

China wants the Australian and New Zealand Governments to drop the visa requirement for some travellers transitting through their countries.

China has revealed plans for tens of millions of dollars in new aid to the Pacific and also decided, in principle, to extend Approved Destination Status to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands.

It could bring thousands more tourists to the the region but many will need to pass through New Zealand and Australia, and as Vice Foreign Minister Zhu Wenzhong told journalists at the Post Pacific Forum Dialogue in Apia, there is some concern over this if they need to have transit visas.

He says the Australian Immigration Minisgter Amanda Vanstone, who visited China recently, made a commitment to look into the issue.

"Direct flights to Vanuatu and Fiji are not very likely I think, so I think it's going to be very important in this regard."