China appears to be lowering its “great wall” of border controls , with entry rules for foreigners relaxed, international flights increased and quarantine time shortened. The eastern province of Zhejiang will now require overseas arrivals to do only seven days of central quarantine, followed by another seven in home isolation. Most mainland authorities earlier required inbound travellers to spend at least 14 days in a central quarantine facility, then a week of self-monitoring at home. This new rule has already been in place since earlier this month in cities including the capital Beijing, Wuhan in central Hubei province, and Wuxi and Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu province. “The measures are to implement scientific and targeted Covid-19 control and efficiently integrate epidemic control and development of economy and society,” Zhejiang health authorities said in a statement on Wednesday. 6 ways China thinks it can offset zero-Covid, get its economy back on track This is the second major adjustment of quarantine rules for overseas arrivals to China within two months, after eight major cities cut central quarantine from 14 days to 10 for some groups in April. However, some others are still sticking to tight Covid-19 controls with the 14-plus-seven quarantine system, such as Changsha in Hunan province, whereas Chengdu in Sichuan requires 10 days in a central facility, followed by seven at home. The new measures are the latest in a series of positive signals from China on the gradual relaxation of border controls, as the world moves to remove barriers for international travel 2½ years into the coronavirus pandemic. Tough border controls, including restrictions on visa applications, frequent testing and prolonged central quarantine, have been an indispensable part of China’s “dynamic zero Covid” response, which seeks to keep out imported cases and prevent large-scale domestic outbreaks. But several Chinese embassies, including those in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, have relaxed visa and travel requirements in recent weeks. As of June 20, foreigners seeking a Chinese employment visa are no longer required to produce an invitation letter issued by relevant local authorities. Close family members of foreign nationals “resuming operation and production” in mainland China can also apply for visas without providing such invitation letters. Foreign nationals are also allowed to visit their Chinese immediate family members or a foreigner with permanent residence in the mainland. No more 7-day PCR or antibody tests for flying to China from the US This is the biggest relaxation of border controls since China closed its borders in March 2020 amid the initial Covid-19 outbreaks, when all foreigners were barred from entry, even if they held valid visas. The rules were slightly relaxed six months later, when those travelling for business were allowed entry, but with an invitation letter from provincial-level foreign affairs authorities that was hard to secure. Meanwhile, international flight restrictions also look set to be relaxed, as authorities seek to save the industry from a deep dive caused by the strict zero-Covid response. The domestic aviation sector transported 12 million passengers last month, less than a quarter for the same period in 2019. Talks are on with some countries to increase regular international passenger flights, Civil Aviation Administration of China official Liang Nan said last week. Chinese carriers have also announced new international flights. China Southern Airlines is set to resume seven routes this month, with total weekly international flights going up from 36 to 48, and countries connected rising from 20 to 27. An Italian carrier resumed its Milan-Nanjing direct flight on Tuesday after a year’s break, and China’s embassy in Rome said direct flights linking other major Italian and Chinese cities would also resume soon. Since March 2020, airlines had been restricted to just one direct weekly flight between China and a foreign country. Some international flights to Canada, Belgium and Nepal have also been resumed.