Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, H.E.Xie Hangsheng (second from left), and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell sign the Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Government of the People’s Republic of China as Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas Yuan Guisen (seated first from left) looks on. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)
Nassau, The Bahamas – The signing of a Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement between The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China represents a “milestone” in the diplomatic relations between The Bahamas and China said Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell.
“Through the signing of this agreement, our tourism industry which is the cornerstone of this nation’s economy will be strengthened. With this agreement, The Bahamas will join North America, Europe and Australia as one of the top destinations for over 70 million Chinese tourists who frequently travel internationally.
Additionally, Bahamians who travel frequently to China for business and tourism opportunities will now be more easily facilitated,” Minister Mitchell stated.
He along with China’s Vice Foreign Minister, H.E. Xie Hangsheng, signed the agreement during a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday, December 19. Government officials including Permanent Secretary Philip Miller and a Chinese delegation witnessed the event. The agreement allows Bahamian and Chinese nationals to travel un-restricted without a visa for up to 30 days.
Mr. Mitchell said it is evident that both The Bahamas and China are in an important stage of economic and social development, with The Bahamas on the brink of an economic leap forward nearing the completion of the Baha Mar project and with China’s phenomenal growth and status as the world’s second strongest economy.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, H.E.Xie Hangsheng (left), and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell exchange gifts during the signing of the Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement Thursday, December 19 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (BIS photo/Derek Smith).
The signing of the agreement will indicate that the two countries have “great” bilateral relations and in the future there will be further talks on technical and economic agreements.
“This agreement is not only a great bi-lateral achievement, but is also a critical step towards the realisation of the government’s policy for visa-free travel for Bahamians,” Minister Mitchell added.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Xie said the agreement is a new step in the bilateral relationship of The Bahamas and China.
“It will facilitate the people-to-people exchanges between our two countries. More and more Chinese visitors and investors will come to the beautiful Bahamas,” he said.Minister Xie said prior to signing the agreement he and Prime Minister Perry Christie discussed extensively the bilateral relations with China and The Bahamas andreached extensive common ground on how to promote this cooperation.He said The Bahamas is an important country in this region and very famous tourist attraction and off-shore financial centre.
The bilateral history of travel agreements between The Bahamas and China began in 2005 with the signing of the Approved Destination Status Agreement. The Bahamas and China have shared diplomatic relations since May 1997.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
ON MUTUAL VISA EXEMPTION
“With a view to further promoting the friendly relations between their countries and facilitating exchange of visits by their citizens; desiring to simplify the entry procedures into their territories for holders of all categories of passports for the citizens of both contracting parties; having conducted friendly consultations on mutual visa exemption on the basis of equality and reciprocity; HAVE agreed as follows:”
Citizens of both the People’s Republic of China and The Commonwealth of The Bahamas holding valid diplomatic, service, public affairs, and official or ordinary passports, shall be exempted from visa requirements for entry into, exit from or transit through the territory of the other contracting party.
Citizens from both countries “shall enter into, exit from or transit through the territory of either contracting party through ports open to foreigners and shall adhere to the laws and regulations applicable to non-citizens in respect of entry, exit and transit.”
Citizens of either contracting party “who intend to enter and stay in the territory of the other contracting party for a period not more than thirty (30) days or to study, reside, engage in employment, media activities or other activities which shall be approved in advance by the other contracting party’s competent authorities, shall, ….apply for the visa with the visa-issuing authorities or other competent authorities before entering the territory of the other contracting party.”
“Citizens of either Contracting Party holding valid diplomatic or service (official) passports, who are members of a diplomatic or consular mission accredited to the other Contracting Party, as well as their accompanying spouses and underage children holding valid diplomatic or service (official) passports, shall not be required to obtain a visa to enter into, exit from, transit through or stay in the territory of the other Contracting Party for the duration of their accreditation requirements of the other Contracting Party within thirty (30) days of their first entry into the territory of the other Contracting Party.”
“In the case of officials at or above vice-ministerial level of the central government and officers at or above the rank of major general of the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China, prior consent from the Commonwealth of The Bahamas shall be obtained, or the competent authorities of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas shall be informed in advance through diplomatic channels in respect of their travel to the territory of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for official purposes.”
“This agreement does not restrict the right of either Contracting Party to prohibit persona non grata or unacceptable citizens of the other Contracting Party from entering its territory or terminate their stay in its territory without citing reasons therefor.”
“Either Contracting Party may temporarily suspend this Agreement partially or wholly on grounds of national security, public order or public health. However, it shall as soon as possible notify the other Contracting Party, in writing in advance, of its intention to suspend the Agreement and subsequently to cancel the suspension through diplomatic channels.”
“The Contracting Parties shall complete, through diplomatic channels, the exchange of samples of their passports within thirty (30) days from the date of signing this Agreement.
“During the period of validity of this Agreement, either Contracting Party shall inform the other Contracting Party, through diplomatic channels, thirty (30) days before its introduction, of any change to the format of the passports and furnish the latter with samples of new passports.”
1. “This Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth (30th) day following the date of the last notification sent between the Contracting Parties, through diplomatic channels, indicating that the domestic requirements for its entry into force have been complied with. The Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas regarding the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic Passports which entered into force on June 15, 2009 shall cease to be effective when this Agreement enters into force.
2. “This Agreement shall remain in force indefinitely. If either Contracting Party wishes to terminate this Agreement, it shall notify the other Contracting Party in writing through diplomatic channels, and this Agreement shall cease to be effective on the ninetieth (90th) day following the date of notification.
3. “This Agreement may be amended by mutual consent of the Contracting Parties, through the exchange of diplomatic notes.”