Restrictions on Chinese travelling abroad have been eased in response to the country's accession to the World Trade Organisation, reported Xinhua. New measures include a simpler system for passport applications, greater power for border visa offices and the setting up of a 'green card' system for foreigners wanting to live in China.
The move to reduce passport paperwork is being introduced in Shanghai and the Guangdong cities of Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Shunde. If successful, it will be taken to all major and medium-sized cities by 2005.
The 'green card' system is to be set up before 2003 and will cater mainly for foreign professionals who want to live in China. Currently, foreign nationals are subject to strict police controls when they apply for residency permits.
In a separate development related to China's membership of the WTO, China will allow foreign travel agencies to open wholly foreign-owned offices by the end of 2005. They will be allowed to take a majority share in Sino-foreign joint venture agencies before the end of 2003; they are currently limited to a 49 per cent stake.