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A Prolonged Absence of Chinese Visitors Will Plague Southeast Asia's Economic Recovery

MIN READSep 15, 2022 | 19:43 GMT

People visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, in June 2020, as it reopened for visitors amid the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. 

People visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, in June 2020, as it reopened for visitors amid the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. 

(MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A prolonged absence of Chinese visitors will impede the recovery of Southeast Asia's tourism-dependent economies, increasing the risk of financial and political volatility in the region. Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, China has sought to prevent large-scale outbreaks by imposing swift lockdowns and movement restrictions in areas where infections are on the rise. This strict ''zero COVID'' policy, however, has made it difficult for Chinese citizens to travel domestically, let alone abroad -- with China still imposing rules that other countries have long since lifted, like a mandatory two-week quarantine upon returning home from international trips. As a result, more Chinese citizens are staying at home, depriving nearby Southeast Asian countries of the tens of millions of Chinese tourists that once flocked to their popular tourist destinations each year. Beijing is highly unlikely to announce any domestic policy changes before the next Communist Party Congress in October, where President...

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