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China’s Visa-Free Tourism May Lure Travelers into Disputed Sea

China’s opening of its southernmost province to visa-free foreign tourism next month could make features in a nearby, widely disputed sea more accessible to curious travelers. Hainan province will waive Chinese visas for citizens of 59 countries starting May 1, state-run media say. On their 30-day visa-free stays, some may be able to set foot on Chinese claims among the reefs and atolls southeast of Hainan as part of the province’s free-trade port ambitions, said Zhao Xijun, deputy School of Finance dean at Renmin University of China. Some of those features belong to the Paracel Islands, an archipelago that China controls but that Taiwan and Vietnam also call their own. “This is something for the future. It’s not just for outside visitors, but domestic travelers also will try hard in this direction,” Zhao said. ​Sending a message through tourism Opening the Paracels to foreign travelers would help China politically, some...

 

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