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How much will my life change?

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Am trying to do some sober reflection on how much my life will need to change as regards living in China. Currently I am at home in Texas, instead of in my “second home,” which is Kunming.

 

China has closed its door to returning expats regardless of visa status, so going back right now is not even an issue. Assuming that I can get back in a month or two, I am asking myself if that will be a sensible thing to do.

 

In Kunming I pursue several enjoyable hobbies and I have several good friends but being retired means I don’t have a job there. No contractual obligations beyond the 6-month lease on my Kunming apartment.  

 

As a US citizen, I currently enter China on a tourist visa with 10-year validity, expiring in December of 2024. The terms of the visa are that I must exit and re-enter once every 60 days.

 

Two questions come to mind regarding the visa requirements, neither with a firm answer. First, I wonder if the authorities will now look more closely at my “very-long-duration-tourist” status. Second, I wonder if I might have to face quarantine every time that I make these visa-stamp runs. Potentially even on both ends of the trip.

 

Is anyone else in the same situation or having the same sort of uncertain thoughts? Any constructive comments or suggestions?

 

 

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889

Remember what we've seen over the last few months.

 

A lot of countries trying a lot of different approaches. Finally coalescing on a close-the-gates approach, but not universally so (apparently you can still head to S Korea, if you want) and coalescing without any coordination whatsoever (except the EU and some reciprocal actions).

 

It's not unreasonable to expect the unwinding to be just as bumpy and uncoordinated. Which is to say that visiting some countries may be pretty difficult for a time, while visiting others may not. Countries with sub-economies dependent on tourism will probably be particularly quick to jump on the get-life-back-to-normal bandwagon.

 

Now, what is China going to do? Who knows. Though it's hardly dependent on foreign tourism these days.

 

But if you're not dead-set on Kunming and flexible enough to consider other expat destinations, I think that come mid-Summer you'll find plenty of options re-opening.

 

Just be open yourself to heading somewhere else for a while.

 

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Jan Finster

I think everything will be back to normal.

However, this may take a while. I would not be surprised if the travel restrictions to China would continue until autumn or even until the end of the year. With SARS, they only officially declared the pandemic to be over 9 months or so after the last case. I doubt they will wait that long to reopen China´s borders, but probably they will ask for an antibody test result or the like. There is really no point for China to close its borders forever once this is over. Because if China did, other countries would do the same to Chinese citizens.

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roddy
25 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

Because if China did, other countries would do the same to Chinese citizens.

While there's an element of reciprocity, I don't think it's that simple. UK businesses and universities are going to be begging to get Chinese tourists and students back in the country, regardless of what China's stance is on UK visitors.

 

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Jan Finster
21 minutes ago, roddy said:

While there's an element of reciprocity, I don't think it's that simple. UK businesses and universities are going to be begging to get Chinese tourists and students back in the country, regardless of what China's stance is on UK visitors.

 

I see your point, but I still think it is give and take. China does benefit a lot from foreigners: 

 

I just googled: China is the 4th most visited country in the world: 60 million visitors per year (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_China)

 

There are about half a million foreign students in China: https://monitor.icef.com/2019/04/chinas-foreign-enrolment-growth-flattened-out-in-2018/

 

There are lots of foreigners working in big companies in China (e.g. IT companies, pharmaceutical industries)..

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abcdefg
7 hours ago, 889 said:

Remember what we've seen over the last few months.

 

A lot of countries trying a lot of different approaches. Finally coalescing on a close-the-gates approach, but not universally so (apparently you can still head to S Korea, if you want) and coalescing without any coordination whatsoever (except the EU and some reciprocal actions). 

 

It's not unreasonable to expect the unwinding to be just as bumpy and uncoordinated.

 

Excellent point. It underscores how unpredictable the situation is. 

 

7 hours ago, 889 said:

But if you're not dead-set on Kunming and flexible enough to consider other expat destinations, I think that come mid-Summer you'll find plenty of options re-opening.

 

Another excellent point. Very rational way to approach the whole issue of living abroad. 

 

Thank you. I will chew on these ideas. Goes without saying that it's all moot if I catch this nasty bug or if this nasty bug catches me. 

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anonymoose
11 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Goes without saying that it's all moot if I catch this nasty bug or if this nasty bug catches me.

 

Even if you do, your odds are still pretty good.

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vellocet

You're lucky, a lot of countries don't allow those shenanigans with tourist visas.  Try that elsewhere and get refused entry at the airport. I caused quite a kerfluffle when I came back to Japan after a few days in Korea. But I know people who train to Xiamen, take the ferry to Kinmen, get stamped, and take the next ferry straight back to the mainland.  The Chinese officials don't bat an eye, for some reason.  Thailand cracked down a couple of years ago on rotating visa runs and a lot of longterm foreigners had to leave.  

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roddy

Actually, aren’t the 10 year tourist visas for the US a reciprocal arrangement. Can Chinese folk in the US do the same? That might mean a measure of stability. 

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889

The ten-year visas are issued on a reciprocal basis, but the visas have different terms.

 

The Chinese visas by their terms limit each stay to 60 days.

 

The US visas -- like US visas normally -- don't contain a stay limitation on their face, because that's determined by the immigration officer on entry. Normally, a 90-day stay is granted, so the reciprocity isn't quite balanced.

 

On the other hand, US immigration is probably not as open to repeated border runs as China has historically been.

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vellocet

Yeah, the "we let people who are obviously not tourists abuse the crap out of our tourist visa program" always baffled me.  If you tried that "visit Canada for 5 minutes then come back" stuff in the States, you'd be refused entry outright.  Other countries, with a tourist visa you need to show you've got an itinerary, hotel reservations, and most importantly a return air ticket.  

 

The most reliable way to get a dodgy visa into China is education.  Just enroll in a language school and presto.  As a bonus, you get to learn Chinese, which a lot of laowai never bother to do.  I heard in Thailand these language school visas have been abused so badly that the officials will now quiz you in Thai when you go to their office and request an extension.  The newest one is a combat school!  You learn how to fight and get to stay in Thailand legally.  Sweet!

 

Here's a great guide to countries with lax visa policies all around the world.  Estonia is looking good.

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Lu
15 hours ago, vellocet said:

I heard in Thailand these language school visas have been abused so badly that the officials will now quiz you in Thai when you go to their office and request an extension.

I love that. I hope they make the questions more difficult for each extension, ending with an in-depth discussion about which books you've recently enjoyed and what you thought of a recent opion piece in a big newspaper. And the officials all read newspapers and books to make sure they can question the foreign students like that. Or they let their latest recruit do the questioning, who just arrived from a faraway village and still has a thick accent from that different region.

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889

We were talking above about possible alternatives to Mainland China, if entry restrictions there linger.

 

Somewhat surprisingly, and perhaps alone among the industrialised world, neither the UK nor Ireland seems to have any special entry restrictions at present. If you could get in before you can get in today. Though better to wait till the epidemic is resolved, of course.

 

Mexico also seems to have no formal virus restrictions, though apparently there have been some informal blocks on Americans at some crossings, over fears they might bring the virus or worse clean out the shelves at the local supermercados.

 

 

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abcdefg

嗯。谢谢。Choosing a place to live is a little like falling in love. It's never a totally rational decision. For me it has always been based to a large extent on soft data. Mexico does have its charms, and I have traveled there a lot, though most of my Mexico experience is from long ago. I even speak (rusty) Spanish. The path of least resistance, of course, would just be to stay here in the U.S. until I eventually take the long dirt nap. 

 

Am keeping my eye on the travel sites, since I will need to get back to Kunming at least once and it should preferably be within the next few months. Still have an apartment there on which I'm paying rent. Need to collect some stuff, move out and say some goodbyes. 

 

One of my Kunming friends just sent me a package of N95 face masks. They arrived yesterday. What a fabulous gift! 

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Meng Lelan
On 4/2/2020 at 10:22 AM, abcdefg said:

 

One of my Kunming friends just sent me a package of N95 face masks. They arrived yesterday. What a fabulous gift! 

Dang, gimme one. Even my Ex who completely hates me, mailed me four surgical face masks from his medical practice to me because I am considered an essential staff at the VA hospital in Louisiana and still go to work, and that worried him. He didn't have a N95 though. 

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anonymoose
On 4/2/2020 at 4:22 PM, abcdefg said:

The path of least resistance, of course, would just be to stay here in the U.S. until I eventually take the long dirt nap. 

 

Am keeping my eye on the travel sites, since I will need to get back to Kunming at least once and it should preferably be within the next few months. Still have an apartment there on which I'm paying rent. Need to collect some stuff, move out and say some goodbyes.

 

How come you've had such a change of heart about living in Kunming? I mean, you've been there or elsewhere in China for several years. This virus thing is no doubt an inconvenience, but the restrictions associated with it cannot last indefinitely. Of course, there may be some as yet unknown factor that definitively puts paid to any idea of going back (such as visa restrictions), but that notwithstanding, surely this virus pandemic will just be a blip in your overall China experience?

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