The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to China. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.
Travellers should note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
H7N9 avian influenza human infections in China
The China Health and Family Planning Commission have confirmed 131 cases of infection from a form of Avian Flu known as influenza A(H7N9). To date there have been 37 deaths from the outbreak. So far the areas affected are Shanghai and Beijing municipalities and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu,Henan, Shandong and Anhui.
Investigations into the source of infection and mode of transmission are ongoing. Until the source of infection has been identified, it is expected that there will be further cases of human infection with the virus in China. So far, there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission. The primary risk factor for human infection appears to be direct or indirect exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food. Travellers should avoid contact with live or uncooked poultry.
Avian Flu presents like other flu viruses. If symptoms are displayed, medical attention should be sought immediately.
The Chinese government is actively investigating this event and has instituted enhanced surveillance, laboratory strengthening and training of health care professionals for detection, reporting and treatment.
The WHO has up to date information on their website: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2013_04_01/en/index.html
The following Q&A should also be consulted and can provide useful tips for travellers: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/faq_H7N9/en/index.html
The HSE in Ireland advises as follows;
There is no need to change travel plans for persons going to or coming from China because of the recent appearance of the novel avian influenza virus A(H7N9) in humans.
Because of the presence of the novel influenza viruses, other avian influenza and zoonotic infections in live bird and animal markets (so called "wet markets") in China, visitors to China and other countries in Asia are advised to avoid visiting these markets.
Visitors are advised to avoid direct contact with bird and animal droppings, untreated bird feathers and other animal and bird waste and follow the basic rules of hand hygiene which includes hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand rubs. See bird flu leaflet for further advice.
See http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/News/MainBody,14006,en.html for further information.
China is becoming an increasingly popular destination for work and travel for Irish citizens. Most major cities in China are relatively modern and accessible for foreigners. Parts of rural China are quite isolated and remote. Travellers are advised to take all necessary precautions such as registering with the Embassy and keeping friends or family members of travel plans.
Irish citizens require a visa to visit China. Visas must be obtained from the Chinese Embassy in your country of residence before you depart. Irish citizens who need to extend or apply for a new visa whilst in China must apply through the local Public Security Bureau, the Irish Embassy in China cannot advise on visa requirements or processes.
Foreigners must register with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival in China; if you are staying in a hotel or hostel, they will carry out this procedure on your behalf. If you are staying with friends or family, you must register personally.
Foreigners must keep their passport or a copy of their passport photo and visa page with them at all times.
A new Entry and Exit Law will enter into force on 1 July. This will affect foreigners resident in China as some visa categories (such as F visas) are changing. In addition, visa extensions cannot exceed the term of the original visa so travellers issued with a 30 day visa can only apply for an extention of 30 days once. Travellers and Irish citizens resident in China should visit the following website for more information http://english.gov.cn/service/immigrating.htm on Chinese visa policy.
Safety and Security
China is a relatively safe destination although pick pocketing and theft are increasing. Travellers should be alert to their personal security and exercise due caution, as they would at home.
Travellers should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations which may turn violent and could result in legal difficulties.
Road Safety in China can be very poor; travellers should wear helmets when cycling or using motorbikes and should exercise caution when crossing roads. The use of illegal taxis or buses is not advisable and should be avoided.
It is very common for bars and nightclubs to serve fake alcohol which can result in violent behaviour and memory loss and has resulted in Irish citizens being left in very vulnerable positions. Travellers are advised to be aware of their alcohol intake.
Counterfeit bank notes, especially counterfeit RMB100 notes, are increasingly common. Ask in the bank or where you change your money how to identify fake notes. Check notes before accepting them, as you will see many shop owners and taxi drivers doing.
There are many scams, particularly in the popular tourist areas of major cities, aimed at extorting money from foreigners. Travellers are approached by people inviting them to drink tea, visit and art exhibition or to practise English; the unwitting traveller is either forced to purchase expensive (but worthless) artwork or is presented with a very large bill for the tea. In a commercial dispute such as this, the local police are unlikely to act. Travellers should not accept any invitations such as these.
Local Laws and Customs
Chinese Nationality governs the status of children born to Chinese nationals in China. This law states that children born to Chinese nationals are Chinese nationals, regardless of the citizenship of the other parent. It is therefore the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their child is correctly registered after birth. The Irish Embassy cannot intervene to assist in cases where the child is primarily a Chinese national.
In China, a person aged 14 years and above is treated as an adult under the law.
There are strictly enforced regulations against any public demonstrations which do not have prior approval of the authorities. Participants may be subject to severe legal action.
There are restrictions on preaching and distributing religious materials. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.
Photography of military or government buildings may result in a penalty.
The punishment for drug-related offences in China is extremely severe and can include the death penalty. Enforcement is taken very seriously, regardless of one's nationality.
In cases of dispute involving Commercial Law, a lawyer should be engaged as a matter of priority. The Embassy cannot intervene in cases of a commercial dispute.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Earthquake in Sichuan Province
An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Lushan County in Sichuan Province. The Earthquake killed almost 200 people and has devastated the infrastructure in the area. Almost 3,000kms of road have been damaged and there is difficulty in delivering supplies of food, water and medicine to the area. Travel to Lushan County is not advised at this time. Travellers intending to visit elsewhere in Sichuan should ensure that they are aware of the situation locally before travelling.
China is prone to many types of natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons, flooding and severe cold.
China is located in an active seismic zone and is periodically subject to major earthquakes. Travellers should familiarise themselves with these guidelines from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes
In cases of flooding, travellers should move to higher ground and wait for the flooding to abate. The Chinese military play a role in evacuating flooded areas, those affected should follow their instructions to ensure safety.
Travellers should be aware that typhoons are common along the south eastern seaboard of China between May and November. Travellers should check the local and international news before travelling to ensure that they will not be caught in a typhoon affected area.
Additional Country Info
Travellers should be aware that the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions operate a different visa policy from mainland China. If travellers travel from the mainland to either of these areas, they will need to have a multi entry visa to enable them the return to the mainland.
Travel to Tibet is restricted and is only possible upon receipt of a travel permit. Within China, these can be applied for from the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Travellers coming from abroad should consult the local Chinese Embassy or their travel agent.
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS IN CHINATop