Snedden on Chinese visas

November 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged last Friday on the beatup over so called skipping or border checks for South China Airlines frequent flyers, and that in fact there was no relaxation of any border checks at all. The only thing that had happened was that customers could use their frequent flyer status as proof of not being poor, rather than a bank statement.

of the Tourism Industry Association writes in the Herald on this issue:

Although citizens of 57 different countries who want to holiday in New Zealand can turn up at our airports and be issued with on-the-spot visas, Chinese visitors cannot. NZ has assessed the risk of criminal activity or absconding as being too high. But this risk attaches to only a very small number of Chinese visitors, so NZ is continually looking to adjust its screening processes to ease the way for visitors who fit within a high-value, low-risk profile.

A key point again – 57 countries are visa free. A check against criminal activity applies to all visitors, so really the issue is we require visas for people from countries where we are concerned they will try and remain in NZ illegally due to our higher standard of living. Hence why they need to prove they have $1,000 of funds for every month they plan to be here.

These visitors still have to meet criteria much more stringent than for most visitors. On arrival, they are still subject to the same border security processes as every other arriving passenger.

Yep the only difference is no bank statement required.

The profile of these Pearl cardholders is seasoned international travellers, generally in sound economic health, with strong ties to their homeland, and who, in the course of their international travels, will have successfully passed through many visa and security processes.

Exactly. To get frequent flyer status they are individuals with considerable funds and a history of travelling without problems.

This China Southern initiative should not be stand-alone. The principles of this agreement can, and should, be applied in a number of other high value, low risk target areas.

We benefit massively from people visiting New Zealand and spending money here. I’m all for expanding the agreement to other airlines.

Some in this country will always see something sinister in anything to do with China, but those of us in tourism are congratulating Immigration Minister Nathan Guy and Immigration NZ on this positive decision.

Xenophobia is what fueled this story, planted by NZ First.

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14 Responses to “Snedden on Chinese visas”

  1. Mark (1,480 comments) says:

    Although citizens of 57 different countries who want to holiday in New Zealand can turn up at our airports and be issued with on-the-spot visas, Chinese visitors cannot. Immigration NZ has assessed the risk of criminal activity or absconding as being too high.

    Who is to say that the gamblers being allowed in under this side agreement are not the criminal element referred to by Seddon in his article. it is a completely illogical argument to suggest that the because 57 countries are exempt we should exempt only a select few Chinese because they travel with South China airways.

    personally I dont have a big issue with these people coming in visa free I just get irked by such irrational argument being put forward to try to justify what is a process that on the surface looks a bit like favours for mates.

    “This China Southern initiative should not be stand-alone. The principles of this agreement can, and should, be applied in a number of other high value, low risk target areas.”

    but this point pout forward by Seddon makes a great deal more sense. If this is only about providing a copy of a bank Statement then WTF is the point of having such a process at all. Why not simply add China as Country #58.

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  2. lastmanstanding (1,281 comments) says:

    So in the words of the formerly Heavenly Beloved Dear Leader ‘Nothing to see here Move on”

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  3. Sean (300 comments) says:

    Its ‘China Southern Airlines’, not ‘South China Airlines’ or ‘South China airways’.

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  4. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    “Exactly. To get frequent flyer status they are individuals with considerable funds and a history of travelling without problems.”

    That is a assertion made without facts to back it up.

    I’m Gold Elite on Air New Zealand, I don’t have “considerable funds”

    Also it’s for their Silver members; In order to earn Silver on CSA, all you need is two economy class returns between Guangzhou and HK. Two domestic flights and we’ll accept that as you bona fides ? hmm, not good enough for me.

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  5. llew40 (5 comments) says:

    Mark, not sure if you have read Martin Sneddens article properly, but its not quite accurate to say that these people are ‘exempt’ or are coming in ‘visa-free’.

    That is one of the main points of the article, they are still subject to same visa process and same border process as before, however one aspect of the significant amount of documentation they need to provide (copies of bank statements to prove financial status) can be substituted under this arrangement for a suitable proxy for financial status (in this case membership of an elite frequent flyer programme). There is nothing to suggest the risk profile changes at all.

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  6. jakejakejake (134 comments) says:

    Why don’t they want to show their bank accounts? What have they got to hide?

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  7. mister nui (1,027 comments) says:

    As a very frequent flyer, I know how easy it can be to get status with airlines, and more than one for that matter. I’m currently gold or platinum with 5 airlines for example. So, I do not agree with the lessening of restrictions for these frequent flyers.

    If they’re the big travelers they purport to be, then they should apply for and undergo the necessary background checks of an APEC card. If they were really big time travelers they would already have one. The benefits of an APEC card are fantastic, and in my opinion it is the most valuable item in my travel docs.

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  8. llew40 (5 comments) says:

    I think the point is that they have been showing their bank accounts up until now (along with many other docs), and its a hassle (after all, how would you feel about it) and takes quite a bit of time, which is a disincentive for choosing NZ as a destination.

    It does feel like a bit of a gross generalisation to suggest that visitors who want an easier visa process to visit NZ for a holiday must have ‘something to hide’.

    But on that, if they truly did have ‘something to hide’, why would you think that bank accounts are such a fail-safe method of uncovering what they may want ‘hidden’?

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  9. Keeping Stock (10,299 comments) says:

    Winston Peters and NZF xenophobic? There must be some mistake :P

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  10. llew40 (5 comments) says:

    Mister Nui – agree an APEC card is the way to go.

    But again, I dont think that elite frequent flyer status is intended to act as a proxy for ‘enormous’ wealth, it is intended to act as a proxy for the level of financial means that the bank statements are intended to demonstrate. If I understand correctly this just means enough money to support themselves during their trip until they return home, on the return flights that they are also required to provide evidence of.

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  11. hj (6,918 comments) says:

    A key point again – 57 countries are visa free. A check against criminal activity applies to all visitors, so really the issue is we require visas for people from countries where we are concerned they will try and remain in NZ illegally due to our higher standard of living.
    ………….
    How do all those made in China bus drivers who ply the tour circuit get work visas?

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  12. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Say no to opium dens and white slavery! Vote NZF!

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  13. Pundit (8 comments) says:

    Time to lift your sights fellow commentators. New Zealand gets a great deal more value from independent travelers from China than it does from tour groups. Yet the visa system is set up in a way that makes it far easier for tour groups to visit than for independent travelers. Now that is simply rediculous. Removing a requirement to provide – get this – months of bank statements or, even worse, your company records just to get a visa to go on holiday seems entirely sensible. I am of the view that it shouldn’t be linked to a frequent flyer programme. It just shouldn’t be required at all. It is not like New Zealand is a low cost destination from China and the visitors that come here are almost by definition from the wealthier parts of the mega cities. The next step is to simplify the New Zealand visa process for Chinese – look at the length of it on the INZ website. And build at least a few decent hotels of genuine 5 star quality fit for international tourists in Rotorua, Queenstown, Wellington and Christchurch and then let’s see what an impact that makes in increasing this critical market – one that increased 39% in the last year and delivers more from spending than any other bar Australia.

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  14. Liberty (261 comments) says:

    So the Chinese must have a visa and $1000 a month to visit. Because of the possibility that they might overstay. So what makes the Chinese any difference to Islanders who have been jumping ship
    for years. They don’t need the $1000 as they just walk in to social welfare.
    What an appalling regulation. This vile regulation should be scraped and the Chinese treated the same
    as the other 57 countries.
    It also shows how two faced the labour government was.
    With Clark producing crocodile tears.
    “It was only one word but it represented a milestone in New Zealand’s ethnic relations.
    That word was ‘sorry’ and on 12 February 2002, the then New Zealand Prime Minister, Hon Helen Clark, formerly apologised to Chinese New Zealanders whose ancestors had paid the Poll Tax that was imposed on Chinese immigrants during the 19th and early 20th centuries.”
    http://ethnicaffairs.govt.nz/story/chinese-poll-tax
    Yet the Clark Government carried on treating the Chinese differently. Why?

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