Seychelles signs historic visa waiver agreement with China


Chinese vice-minister for Foreign Affairs Xie Hangsheng is welcomed at State House by President James Michel

This was revealed yesterday when Chinese vice-minister for Foreign Affairs Xie Hangsheng paid a courtesy visit to State House yesterday, calling on President James Michel, Vice-President Danny Faure and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam.

President Michel expressed his gratitude to the People's Republic of China for the signing of the agreement which he said is a “milestone in relations between Seychelles and China' and will develop their people-to-people relations”.

"We value the special relationship that exists between China and Seychelles...China has helped us immensely in our development and is continuing to support us in various fields... We both believe in peace and in fairness and we support each other's development...

“The mutual visa waiver agreement will further develop our relations and will become a showcase to the world, of how two countries with a common vision can achieve greater levels of confidence and cooperation," said Mr Michel.

Vice-Minister Xie Hangsheng said he was deeply impressed by the strategic vision of Seychelles as well as its natural beauty, and that the new agreement would help further development of economic, cultural, and educational ties between to the two countries.

“China and Seychelles relationship has now entered into a new stage... Chinese tourists will continue coming to Seychelles and more Seychellois will now be going to China. You can realise the huge effect that this agreement will have, especially for our bilateral cooperation by adding further momentum to people-to-people exchange, more investment and cultural exchanges,” said Mr Hangsheng.

He said his visit to Seychelles has confirmed the excellent relations that exist between the two countries which he hopes will further develop based on sincerity and friendship that already exist.
Mr Adam said: “We are very pleased to have had this visit from the vice-minister from China.”

“This agreement demonstrates the strength of the relationship between Seychelles and China. We are very pleased that after long years of negotiations we have managed to reach this point.”
The reciprocal agreement – which still needs to be legally processed through the Chinese People’s parliament – will be officially announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when it comes into effect. Visa waiver agreements are typically signed between two countries to enhance economic, cultural and humanitarian ties, and this one comes at an opportune time as Seychelles looks to Asia for more trade, investment and tourism opportunities.

Although the need to purchase visas for travel to China will soon be a thing of the past, normal consular requirements will still apply, such as restrictions on length of stay, which is set at 30 days. When travelling to China, a Seychellois national should present a passport valid for at least six months, proof of financial means to sustain the visit (credit cards, traveler’s checks or bank statements), a round-trip travel itinerary and a hotel reservation or other evidence of accommodation.

“I think the fact that we are one of only two countries to have this kind of agreement, and the only country in Africa, shows us that China holds us in very high esteem, and it’s reciprocal – we also have very great respect and mutual understanding for China.”

Mr Adam noted that Seychelles’ relations with China would continue to grow and evolve with the passage of time, noting that the cooperation originally given to the country by China on the independence of Seychelles in 1976 has widened in scope with changes to the global economic and political landscape.

He said his ministry also used the Chinese envoy’s visit to discuss a number of ongoing issues of bilateral importance, which include nearly-completed Chinese-funded projects such as the new Supreme Court, the Les Mamelles housing project and the Anse Royale hospital. He also said he is looking forward to see the commencement of some new social projects in partnership with the Chinese government, particularly within the housing sector.

He said he believes some huge opportunities exist in the development of trade and investment between the two countries, most particularly, he noted, in renewable energy.
“Seychelles has made a very clear political commitment to go very heavily into renewable energy as a source for our own energy, and China is the number one country in the world in terms of production of renewable energy technology,” he said.

“So there is an opportunity for Chinese investors in the renewable energy sector.”

The minister said opportunities for partnership also exist within the “blue economy”, which he explained is not only concerned with fisheries, but that Seychelles is also seeking China’s technical expertise in marine research for resource exploration. 

Also present were the secretary general of the executive office of the President, Lise Bastienne and Chinese ambassador to Seychelles Shi Zhonjun.

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