Reforms in China years ago made travel to the Middle Kingdom easier than ever, and certainly easier than to almost any other closed society. Tourists only had to show an air ticket and the intention of staying in a hotel. The embassy did not even care to know the hotel. But that was before the 2008 Olympics and the protests over Tibet.
Now China is in full clamp-down, and visas for regular tourists, visitors, and Olympics watchers are harder and harder to acquire.
Basic tourist visas can now only be issued to passengers with a confirmed itinerary detailing all travel arrangements and a confirmed hotel with full contact data.
Visitor visas are far more difficult. People wanting to visit family must show a copy of the official PRC identity card for their contact, as well as a kinship certificate and a personal invitation letter. They also need confirmed travel arrangements.
Multiple entry visas are now almost impossible to arrange, and this is not likely to change between now and the Olympics.
The only good news in all this is the prices remain the same; with a visa rock-bottom priced at only $50.
So my best advice to you is to apply early and be prepared for your initial application to be rejected for lack of some detail not needed in the past.
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