Shanghai preview

China

All Westerners are required to have a visa to enter China. All Westerners not staying in a hotel are required to register at the nearest police station within 24 hours of their arrival in China. No visa is required for ordinary passport holders from Singapore, Brunei and Japan to visit China for up to 15 days for business, sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends or transit.

All other non-Chinese nationals need a visa to enter the country - including nationals from Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). Hong Kong citizens do not need entry visas for China. Prior the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government tightened the rules for obtaining and renewing visas. You must keep in mind that Chinese visa policy can vary a lot depending on many factors: international-level events held in China (the Beijing Olympics is the best example), security alerts, internal political or social problems or even diplomatic conflicts with one given country can make things a lot more difficult for citizens of the concerned country. This not only affects getting the visa, it also can change how police watch the correct use of each type of visa. During the Beijing Olympics, for example, public security forces persecuted foreigners who were working in China but had a business visa (which is not legal, but a very common practice), often through surprise inspections in foreign companies’ offices.

You can get your Chinese visa at Chinese embassies, consulates, and other offices authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. If they have a website, sometimes you can download the application forms, but there is no centralized government website that maintains information and forms. Check with your home country's Chinese representative. The good news is that if you can supply all the required documents, in their original form, you will be awarded the visa. While the process can be exhaustive, it is transparent. There are no interviews. Once your documents have been accepted, they will be processed and your visa issued. If your application documents are not acce…