China is the second largest economy in the world, following only the United States. Rapid economic growth in the past decades have led to a large and growing middle class with high purchasing power. Besides this, China has robust infrastructure, technology and supply chain networks, making it easier for entrepreneurs to access the resources they need to build and scale up their businesses.
In this business guide to China, we’ll discuss why the country is a lucrative place for overseas companies and investors expanding into the Asian market or starting new ventures, and explain how to apply for the China business visa.
Why do business in China?
Among the most powerful world players, China is actively encouraging private and enterprises, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 90% of companies in the country are MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises). Entrepreneurs in China can benefit from the following business advantages:
Huge market potential
China has a large consumer market with a massive population of over 1.4 billion people, making it the world’s most populous country. This presents a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs to tap into a vast customer base and scale up their businesses quickly.
Known as the "world's factory" due to its extensive manufacturing capabilities and expertise, China can provide businesses with access to a range of affordable suppliers and resources. Companies can access low-cost labour as well as relatively lower transportation costs, since they don’t have to import international goods. This manufacturing capability is made possible partly by the fact that the Asian giant has a large pool of skilled workers.
Incentives for entrepreneurs
Thirdly, the Chinese government is actively seeking to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign investment, providing various incentives and support programmes to businesses. These include:
● Tax and fee reductions: The government has extended a number of tax and fee reduction policies to support small businesses, reducing taxes by up to 50%.
● Innovation funding programmes: There are numerous programmes for start-ups according to sectors, including the National Natural Science Fund and the Beijing Science & Technology Innovation Fund.
Introduction to the Chinese business visa
What is the China entrepreneur visa?
The Chinese entrepreneur visa, called the M class visa, is for people entering China for commercial or trade purposes. These can include foreign entrepreneurs, investors, and talents. The business visa is typically valid for three months; residents of some countries, including Canada and Argentina, can receive up to 10 years of validity. It’s not guaranteed that you can renew a Chinese visa, but you can apply for extensions on a case-by-case basis.
The China business visa is only valid for single entry.
How to obtain the M visa?
Certain countries have visa-free agreements with China, where they can enter the country for anywhere from 15 to 90 days without a visa. If you are not eligible for visa-free entry, you must apply for the China M visa online and submit the printed application with supporting documents to a Chinese consulate or embassy in your country. In some countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, India and Singapore, you must submit the application to the Chinese Visa Application Centre.
The application fee for the M class business visa varies according to your nationality and the processing speed you require (standard, rush and super rush processing ranging from 5 to 9 days).
What documents are required to apply for M visa?
In general, the following documents must be prepared by applicants of all nationalities. There may be additional China M visa requirements based on your home country, so it’s best to check with the local Chinese embassy:
● Printed copy of completed visa application form;
● Original passport valid for at least six months from the date you plan to depart from China, with at least two blank pages;
● Photocopy of the passport information page;
● An invitation letter containing basic information about the applicant, information about the visit, and information of the inviting entity/individual. (This can be a document about the commercial activity issued by a trade partner who is in China or a trade fair invitation.);
● Proof of onward travel;
● If you have successfully received a Chinese visa in the past, a copy of the most recent visa;
● Recent passport photo.
It’s important to note that the Chinese government has strict requirements for the application photos, as follows:
● Printed photos should be exactly 48 mm x 33 mm;
● Printed on glossy photo paper;
● No stains, scratches, or folds.
If your China M visa application is approved, you will receive the visa within five to nine business days after submission.
Find an office in China
After you’ve successfully applied for the Chinese visa (Category M), you can look ahead to finding an appropriate workspace for your company. Compass Offices provides serviced offices in a centrally located district in Shanghai, so that no matter whether you need a start-up office or satellite office in China, our range of flexible workspaces can meet your enterprise’s needs.
We provide businesses of all different sizes with the freedom to move into furnished offices and immediately be business-ready. With modern furniture, high-speed broadband Wi-Fi, and quality shared spaces, benefit from corporate-grade office facilities without the hefty price tag. Get in touch with our team to learn more.