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Visa exemption for Chinese sparks outrage | Online petition launched

China nationals no longer require a visa to enter the BVI. (Google image)

News of a new policy exempting Chinese nationals from the BVI’s visa entry requirements is not sitting well with many British Virgin Islands natives. Among the outraged locals is local taxi operator Julio Sam Henry who has launched an online petition to have the policy rescinded.

The petition is seeking a minimum of 100 signatures and was created on Sunday, some three days after Premier Dr D Orlando Smith announced the policy.

“This policy needs quick attention and revisiting,” Henry told BVI News on June 24.

“It is designed to encourage investors but we all know how Chinese travel – they travel with a lot of suitcases. My concern is the government could have done a different type of approach. We never really had an open Immigration policy like this and it scares me and it scares a lot of people. And the more people are aware of it, the more concerned people are going to get,” Henry said.

“So, my whole purpose for the petition is to just raise awareness and keep that conversation in front of everybody,” he added.

Nothing to gain

Henry further questioned the government’s motive for the new policy.

He said there is ‘no need’ to try to lure more Chinese investment to the local financial services sector because they “are already doing it.”

“There is not much to gain other than an invasion of Chinese coming into the territory,” he argued.

Henry said he foresees the new policy having a negative impact on the development and future of the territory.

“If we do not control our Immigration, we will lose our way. This government leadership is pushing the country full forward into a place of no return.”

He said government should re-implement the visa requirements for the Chinese but to give Chinese investors ‘special permission’ whenvere they are visiting the territory on business.

“One should carefully examine current Chinese trend around the world – listen to the cries of the people on the ground and set policies base on knowledge, best practices, fair trade and equal opportunities for your people,” he reasoned.

He added: “We should seek real investment into educating for our people with the first-hand apprenticeship sponsored and paid for by the Chinese in their homeland. We should have firsthand knowledge of their business practices and method of conducting business the same way they require foreign companies to register when doing business in China.”

Defending BVI/China relationship

Meanwhile, in a seemingly government-commissioned statement, Director of BVI House Asia, Elise Donovan said the territory is vastly benefitting from their relationship with China.

She cited a report out of London which said 41 percent of the BVI’s financial services business originated from China and rest of the Asia Pacific region.

“At least 25 cents out of every dollar of the 60-plus percent in revenues going into the BVI’s treasury to support schools, hospitals, roads, infrastructural development and government salaries, among other things, come from China and the rest of Asia,” she said.

Donovan said, according to the aforementioned report, China alone (including Hong Kong and Macau) accounts for 35 per cent of the global business coming to the BVI.

“As a services-based economy, that makes China the BVI’s most important trading partner and, to be absolutely clear, China is responsible for the most butter on our bread and roofs over our heads.”

She said it “makes sense to align economically with the country offering more opportunities to invigorate, diversify and grow the BVI’s economy. Investing resources in strengthening the BVI/China partnership is not only strategic but also basic common sense. The benefits accrue to all – they trickle up, down and across the BVI economy.”

Apart from being ranked as world’s second largest economy by the International Monetary Fund, China is also said to have the largest purchasing power on the planet, Donovan said.

She went on to underscore the importance the Premier’s recent visit to China.

“Why did the Premier prioritize going to China and Asia over going to London? The answer is simple: He clearly knows on which side the BVI’s bread is buttered,” she concluded.

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69 Comments

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  1. Jane says:

    The Chinese people who will be able to afford to travel to BVI are unlikely to be looking to relocate here illegally. These people are used to living an extremely modern and comfortable life in a very much first world environment. Why would they swap that to live in BVI where our children go to school in tents, we have power outages, sewerage flows through our towns etc? I think persons need to be real about just how desirable this place is or isn’t, even more so post-Irmaria. They may want to come to sail for a week or sit on a beach but I very much doubt they would want to stay longer.

    • Question says:

      So what would account for the mass number of Chinese people living in Antigua? There is a Chinese restaurant on almost every street corner in Antigua. A number of them came to Antigua to carry out capital projects such as the airport, the Sir Viv Richards stadium among other and they never left. And it looks like they invited everyone in their family to come join them.

      • True says:

        More than likely they will stay. China is overpopulated and there are many lifestyle restrictions there that you won’t find in the Caribbean.
        Antiguans love Chinese food and they are not bothered by the Chinese for the most part they work hard and don’t get wrapped up in crime so there’s no real reason for antiguans to be xenophobic

        • @True says:

          So why aren’t they coming and staying now? All they had to do is get the VISA and come? You all are bats**t crazy in this f*****g place I swear. You guys hear CHINA, you think oh my god so many people, you hear AFRICA, you think oh my god so many poor and corrupt people. You can tell those that don’t travel nowhere pass St Thomas, Puerto Rico and Miami. Sad.

          • Rubber Duck says:

            I have been to both several times. China is a fast growing modern country with a vast reasonably well off middle class of people who like to travel. Sub Saharan Africa is for the most part dirt poor with tiny rich ruling elites and riven by tribalism.

          • Bandit says:

            what are you talking about all three places that you have mentioned is over flowing with migrants from all over the world. wheel and come again.

      • @Question says:

        So you are saying they are in Antigua because they don’t need a visa to go there? You realize how DUMMMBBBB that sounds? They’re in Jamaica, Antigua and Dominica for reasons. There was NOTHING stopping Chinese from coming to the BVI before the policy, do yo think now they don’t need a visa that means they will come to stay? WTF??

      • Frankly says:

        My preference is a chinese restaurant on every corner, as opposed to a rum shop or a whore house or a strip club which is what we are now stuck with resulting from those other people who we imported for jobs. They stayed, they multiplied,they brought their families ,they overloaded the prison,hospital,schools,degraded our culture,destroyed families,and and our dollars are spent to police and contain them.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        Antigua has a much less xenophobic, non belonger hating culture than BVI. One reason it is rapidly catching up and ready to over take BVI economically. The Chinese are traditionally hard working people who contribute to the economy wherever they are.

        • BoyBlue says:

          ” The Chinese …..contribute to the economy wherever they are.”

          This could be the contributing factor to their welcome in Antigua. If Antigua is less xenophobic than the BV I and its economy is surpassing the VI, how do you explain the overwhelming amount of the upper caribbean folks pouring in and refusing to leave the VI even in its darkest days.

    • BVI lawyer says:

      That is more true than you know. In China, citizens need an “exit visa” to even leave the country. Those exit visas are expensive. It then takes nearly 48 hours to travel from most places China to the BVI. If we see more than 100 people from China visit the BVI every year, I would be amazed.

    • true says:

      Have you ever visited China? First world it is not!

      • Albion says:

        Have you visited BVI since Irma? First or second world country it is not…

      • Won Hung Lo says:

        It depends where you go. Shanghai, Hong Kong and others are first world cities with better infrastructure than anywhere else. In the west there is still a lot of rural tradition and poverty. But they are dealing with it more effectively than anywhere else.

      • @True says:

        I’ve been to China a few times well! Have you?? Last time I checked they had super decent roads, dependable public transportation systems in place, beautiful cities, keeping alive of their local culture, education system of the highest standard, yes their kids even go to school on weekends, blazing high speed Internet, courteous customer friendly service, and a degree of sophisticated modernism not even America can beat. So stop watching only American news that shows Chinese people in rice fields. That’s what they want you to see to look down on the Chinese. There’s a whole lot of China to behold. Trust me it’s a place to visit and be pleasantly amazed!

        So anyone who thinks that the affluent Chinese tourists are coming here to stay in droves, is a bit of a sensationalist. Let’s hope they feel like taking the 2 days to get to the BVI and endure rude taxi drivers and disgruntled Immigration Officers.

    • Pudd’nhead Wilson says:

      Has the tourist office mapped out arrival options for Chinese? For example, if they fly through STT they will need a US visa unless we can negotiate a transit visa that would permit them to arrive and then put them on the next flight or ferry (?) to the BVI. What other international airport options do we have?

      Has our tourism department worked out some reasonable flight options to EIS or flight & ferry options to STT? (Air France has the fastest flight though SXM but it costs $9626 and takes nearly 30 hours)

    • The Most Honorable says:

      You people need to stop painting the wrong picture of what the Virgin Islands is. Sewage does not just run into the street on a nation wide basis, it is a area specific problem. Its not a chronic problem as some of you people try to make it seem. Every country from time to time may have a sewage mishap due to a technical failure. Yes there is power outages, but most times than not, there is electricity. Many places in World dont have electricity on a stable level like it is here.

    • @Jane says:

      You don’t know what you are talking about.

  2. Rubber Duck says:

    It is a tourist visa exemption is it not. It does not allow Chinese to come and live here. There is no incentive to Chinese immigration. There is absolutely no incentive to Chinese or any other investment because as is known everywhere the policy of all BVI governments is to actively discourage all investment (except those concerned with tacky Cancun type developments by their pals and cronies)

    The recent Election of Mr Walwyn confirms this anti investment policy will continue.

    • ? says:

      “The recent Election of Mr Walwyn confirms this anti investment policy will continue.”

      I don’t agree with that at all. Walwyn is no fool and if he wants to leave a good legacy behind, he won’t play those games. I think he will do an awesome job along with Penn at his side, hoping for brighter days.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        I suspect you are not a potential outside investor who has had the “pleasure” of speaking with Mr Walwyn. A more cold , distant, superior attitude would be hard to find. Investors are people too and go where they feel welcome. No one feels welcome in BVI.

        • @RubberDuck says:

          Less is more. Less people in the VI would be a welcome relief.
          According to your statement, this should be an easy accomplishment but quite the contrary.
          For such an unwelcoming place,why is it saturated with expats.?

          • Really says:

            The U.S do$$ars what else you think, remove that U.S do$$are tomorrow morning then you will see what happens. BVI would be empty.

          • Rubber Duck says:

            Because it has been rich. Rich due entirely to expat investment. 90% of business being founded , owned and run by non belongers. And because it is “British “

            It is extremely doubtful whether that will continue as the government does all it can to intimidate and put off anyone who thinks of investing here.

            It was never due to the welcoming attitude of BVIslanders.

  3. Common Sense says:

    What? A taxi driver complaining about guests arriving with “too many suitcases?” I thought the drivers charged for each suitcase? We need to get rid of lazy drivers not interested in welcoming guests to our islands especially those that arrive from half way around the world. Seriously, our taxi drivers are ambassadors to our guests. Tourism is our last frontier. We need to find a new way to train and license our “ambassadors.” The driver that proposed this seems inspired by Donald Trump and his m———- vison to make America Great by sealing off its boarders. We need to be more welcoming to all visitors.

  4. Gordaguy2 says:

    Chinese immigrants are not likely to come to BVI in droves to live here, however the business minded person will gravitate where there are business opportunities and BVI does have some (not many) viable opportunities such as luxury hotel/condo developments and of course a workable airport on Virgin Gorda would be a plus as would a longer strip at EIS. Canada has been successful in attracting investor class immigration and BVI might want to do the same.

  5. LOL says:

    I do not understand how as a Tourist destination you do want to require Visa’s to enter the country as a Tourist. As Jane mentions Chinese Tourists are very sophisticated and the number of Tourists choosing to visit the BVI and can afford to come all the way to the BVI should be made welcome. I don’t think we are in any shape to miss out on any Tourist-$ because we are making visiting to difficult. I would not consider visitin if I would have to go through the Visa-application process when there are so many other places I will not need to. That is the reason I will not visit China even I would like to see the Great Wall and cruise the Yangtze River.

  6. the watcher says:

    So Mr. Julio Sam Henry wants to make it more difficult for Chinese tourists to come to the BVI? Why? Where anywhere in this does it say they will be coming to take over? It’s visa free travel….for TOURISTS!! Why are people so zenophobic?

  7. Invasion? says:

    Since when don’t we want to encourage more tourists to come here? Especially well educated tourists with lots of money to spend. The Chinese visitors arriving here probably arrive from a major city where the average price of their apartment is over $2 million. They likely have have advanced degrees and jobs in China that are paying them a minimum of $150,000 a year. In sum, they are not only wealthier than most of our other visitors they are far wealthier and better educated than we are as a small nation. We can learn from the Chinese. In the past generation, they have reversed their historical misfortune. And so can we with the right leadership. It all starts with education.

  8. Online Now says:

    Racism and xenophobia are the basis of all of these arguments. It’s a very ugly look those complaining, open your eyes, the world is getting smaller and this small place needs to catch up.

  9. WOW says:

    Sometimes I really have to wonder about my people. They waived the VISA requirement, they didn’t say they can all come here work, set up businesses etc. It costs USD$2K round trip from China to BVI so who do you think will be coming? Why are we so scared of every single thing? We are into Tourism and we are upset that the Government has made a decision in this respect. Where are the suggestions and and solutions? Every single day it’s pure fear mongering and the same people wondering why economic activity is stagnated in the BVI. The BVI economy was never ‘locally’ based, it was always based on outsiders, i.e. Tourism, Financial Services and those of us that own apartments, restaurants, supermarkets, bars etc. depend on that same volume to support our businesses. Remove them from the equation and you have what we have post-Irma, many businesses going under, empty apartments, less jobs because businesses are suffering. Our elders need to start educating people and stop putting them in fear over foolishness. Fearing Chinese visitors will NOT rebuild the BVI economy.

    • yep says:

      AMEN..over and over and over…… People should stop and think about what you ate saying!

    • Rubber Duck says:

      You are absolutely right. But the fact is virtually no one , ex pat investor whites, ex pat down islanders, Spanish , and now Chinese is welcome here.

  10. Vi says:

    Is people like u dat make bvi cant florish like it shud u talk but are u doing to help u people need to be more open minded and welcome change take a glimpse at some of d other island in d caribben china has helped so much and china is one of major places dat donate assust and aid these country china dnt need d bvi d bvi needs china help and investment so is a pass to visit d bvi is wat day get so b it alot of other nationality here and and living fir years and i dnt hear u all complaining but u lettin dem in

  11. Disclaimer says:

    Like every country in the world it ain’t every comment that represents the views of the majority. So please don’t lump all BVIslanders in the same basket as Mr Henry. Too often this is done – even with blogging – hope you people realize it’s one set of people blogging who also don’t represent the views of all BVIslanders. This happens all over the world. BVI is no different – they have the right to air their views.

    • Condor says:

      I as a BVIslander also disassociate myself from Mr. Henry’s silly comments. China has its faults, but in terms of sheer abuse of a people who are down, USA and Europe are unmatched in modern history.

      • Typical says:

        You want to disassociate yourself from anti Chinese sentiment. But you cannot resist then making anti white remarks ( because that is what they are)

        And you don’t think you are part of the problem.

        • @ typical says:

          No, you are the bigger problem.

          We are complicit in the raw truth that” in terms of sheer abuse of a people who are down, USA and Europe are unmatched in modern history”.

          Bringing truth to light can never be a problem.

  12. Sweet n sour says:

    Is everyone in outrage because the Chinese know how to work and will show up all the locals who master the “island time” ritual?

  13. Uncle Buck says:

    BVI desperately needs foreing investment. The funny thing to note is how foreing investment is seen as a good or bad thing depending on the demographics of the investor. Just a word of caution to the self-obsessed politicians on island; the Chinese are superior to all and everyone and do not take kindly to belittlement and condescending attitudes. If they can’t run their own business with their own people they will be out of here faster than you can say Johnny cake.

  14. Wow says:

    The global community must be looking at the BVI and wondering WTF we eat or breathe in this place. Just went through the worst flooding and 2 cat 5 storms, everyone thought we were done with. We are fighting for our lives when it comes to Financial Services so we need to focus more on tourism, a simple gesture such as waiving a visa requirement for Chinese, many of whom are affluent, and we are head over heals. Where are Sam’s solutions to rebuild our tourism product given that he operates directly within that industry? Where are his points for recovery? Every single time you hear this guy’s mouth is always some fear mongering nonsense trying to act as if he knows something nobody else knows. All the new policy means is Chinese nationals can now travel to the BVI on vacation without needing a BVI VISA to do so as was necessary in the past. They will still be subjected to Immigration control and rules like anyone else. How can the BVI be taken seriously with foolishness such as this as headlines daily?

  15. Hypocrisy says:

    why my grand children cannot get a passport for here and it is ok for these C… to come in how the want. The Virgin Island in trouble to the fullest

    • Online Now says:

      How is that related? It’s the common cry, “what about me” and “what’s in it for me?”. Sometimes you just have to put country first!

    • Uncle Buck says:

      (Example of why education should be our top priority) The BVI doesn’t issue passports to foreigners. We do require visas (which are special stamps or approvals put in a passport) to double check someone’s identity before they arrive. The visa application process for Chinese is time consuming and expensive. I imagine many Chinese will now consider the BVI because they don’t need a visa.

    • @hypocrisy.. says:

      maybe if u had a bit more commonsense they would have had passports by now!

  16. Pat says:

    Those statements could never be from Sam. Stop using the man name. Sam not that stupid.

  17. KennyG says:

    The fact is, within a very short time after the first Chinese arrivals, you will soon realise that every turn you turn, its Chinese nationals. This is a proven fact that they are seeking countries across the world to dump their people, and on top of that, they have no real interest in the development of any nation they reside except to set up their own businesses, import their own labour force, amass all the wealth they can, and ship it back to their own homeland. Other countries will be more committed to country, but not this set.

    This is evident in every country they have been given the opportunity to enter and invest, Jamaica being a classic example. Therefore, if the BVI government is foolish enough to remove restrictions and swing the gate to the BVI open to China, you will soon be squeezing to find place to walk in your own country. Mark my word!!

    • Mao Tse Tung says:

      Kenny , you are a small brained racist bigot. Go away.

    • John says:

      Kenny you are an idiot. China makes it very difficult to allow people to leave. They have tough restrictions to meet. Score traveling so saying China is trying to “dump” their people on other countries is absurd

    • LOL says:

      So Kenny, there are hundreds of Chinese wanting to come here but that measly VISA is what’s stopping them? So just by removing the requirement of a VISA to visit the BVI, they will be on every corner? WTF?????????????????????????? Are you guys serious?

  18. Silent says:

    I think that it is a great initiative! More tourists would help to boost or economy and get it moving again. Sam, if you have nothing intelligent to say then say nothing at all. You should not however, intentionally play on the fears of people.

  19. Brad Boynes says:

    Question? . Do these type of decisions have to be presented to Cabinet and agreed upon before implementing? Just asking.

  20. They travel in hives says:

    Here comes China Town!!!

  21. Google Douglas dc11 says:

    Ayo dumb, blind and crazy. This is a great move and there is a big reason. The Chinese build a there own cannal to cross into the Atlantic and take a guess of what would come accros that cannal. Chinese goods of course and Chinese Cruise line. You think they would fly all across this side just to see the ocean and still have to cross trough America or Europe to migrate here. This is a great move by gov.

  22. Phoenix says:

    OH, shut up and run or recruit people to run for office. LETS MOVE!

  23. Ulric A Creque Sr says:

    Lot Of Suit Cases MR Henry ? Is that all you have ? That is Ridiculous. What part of 60% of the money going into the BVI Treasury from that part of the world don’t you Understand. Are you aware that the UK is trying to take away that 60% ? Or are you too blinded by R—- to appreciate the true facts of the situation. Chinese Business People will have to work through our elected officials to do business in the BVI. If our elected officials are honest and put the interest of the Country ahead of their own The people of the BVI will reap the benefits of of the possible foreign Investments. I do have one suggestion for our elected officials. All future significant developments in the country should include a 5 to 15 % amount depending on the size of the development, to be use for the development of Infrastructure, Education Etc. Unlike what happened with the huge Oil Nut Bay Development. That Development probably required the government to spend money to support it.

  24. No nonsen says:

    We will then become a bigger migration hub to the United States. The US will then ask us back for their $$ and entry to the USVI becomes unfriendly as well as more stricter rules to obtain a US travel visa.

  25. ??? says:

    The stupidity expressed on this topic is amazing.

  26. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Visas are being waived for the Chinese but not for our regional Haitian, Jamaican and Guyanese brothers and sisters. Do Virgin Islanders need a visa to visit China? And if yes, why is the visa requirement not reciprocal? We need to be conscious of the Chinese mirage, for what is seen may not be the real deal. Here is a news flash on the Chinese, the second largest economy in the world but surging.

    The Chinese are flushed with cash and often offer cash starved countries low interest or no interest loans; they do give grants. However, their assistance often require using Chinese equipment, material/goods, labour……..etc. They also require relaxed immigration rules for their citizens and support at the UN and other world bodies.

    Moreover, many resource rich yet poor countries (resource curse), ie, many African countries…….etc are coerced into yielding control of mineral and other natural resources to the Chinese.

  27. CW says:

    Thank you moderators for removing the terrible anti asian and RACIST comments. Finally.

  28. CW says:

    Lots of racist in the BVI population. I don’t ever expect to hear ANY OF YOU COMPLAIN about racism in the future because you are just as bad if not worse. BVI NEEDS THE INVESTMENT. GROW UP BVILANDERS.

    • KIP says:

      I never seen racism in BVI. What are you talking about Willis? Have you been to Europe or America? Them people country not for sale like ours,and they value there damn country. Why did the Caribbean take a page from BVI and established similar tax policy? If you looking for racism go to China Willis.

  29. KIP says:

    Didn’t you hear Amerika and UK just followed BVI lead and have adopted a visa free policy for Chinese nationals.
    Donkey don’t belong in horse race.The Caribbean leaders are Schizophrenic liars they really think we are sheep. I hope the BVI people won’t become sheeple like the rest of the Caribbean…Baaa Baaa Black sheep indeed?

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