China Resumes Accepting Applications for Commercial Performances

Posted by Written by Qian Zhou Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has announced that it will resume accepting applications for commercial performances, which will enable foreign entertainers and cultural performers to perform in China for the first time since the start of the pandemic. However, due to the tight schedules of both overseas performers and local venues, China’s foreign entertainment market may take time to fully recover.

On March 16, Thursday, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that it will resume accepting applications for commercial performances involving people from overseas, starting from March 20, 2023.

This marks the removal of another restriction imposed during the zero-COVID policy period. Earlier this week, China resumed issuing all types of visas for foreigners on March 15, 2023, including the long-awaited tourism visa.

In this article, we introduce the policy adjustments and analyze the potential effects on the commercial performance sector.

What are the policy adjustments?

On March 16, 2023, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism posted on its website that: “Starting from March 20, 2023, local administrative departments of culture and tourism will resume the acceptance, examination, and approval of commercial performances involving foreign applicants.”

This move is part of China’s continuous effort to optimize its response to COVID-19. It is aimed to better serve China’s economic and social development and accelerate the recovery of the performance market.

Meanwhile, the announcement requires local governments to strengthen the management of commercial performance activities and urges performance organizers to implement COVID-19 prevention and control measures for Class-B infectious diseases.

The applications for commercial performances involving people from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have been resumed since February 16, 2023, yet applications for commercial performances involving other overseas applicants had been suspended until now with limited exceptions.

Impact on the market for foreign commercial performances

This policy adjustment will optimize the approval process of commercial performance involving foreign performers.

Previously, under the zero-COVID policy, foreign performers who wanted to perform in China had to contend with difficult visa applications and lengthy quarantine procedures before they could submit their performance application for approval.

The policy adjustment should make forthcoming application procedures much easier.

More concerts and other large-scale commercial performances will return to the Chinese market. Among them, well-known plays with high market influence, such as Romeo and Juliet, Mozart Rock, Les Miserables, Notre Dame de Paris, the Sound of Music, Riverdance, and more, are planning returns to the Chinese market. In addition, internationally renowned symphony orchestras, such as the Vienna Symphony Orchestra of Austria, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden State Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre Opera and Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, among others, are planning to visit China, and more concert schedules of masters and performers are being finalized.

Nevertheless, the offline commercial performance market cannot be revived overnight.

The performance schedule of international groups is usually decided one or two years in advance. That is to say, the performance schedule of many international groups has already been decided and it is difficult to add more performances on short notice.

Besides, the major performance venues in China are on tight schedules as well. With most suitable venues already booked by domestic large-scale music performances, foreign performers may have to wait even if they have capacity.

Thus, the resumption of acceptance of applications and approval does not mean the foreign performance market will rebound rapidly in the immediate future. Industry insiders expect that commercial performances of overseas artists will most likely pick up in the second half of this year, or even next year.

China’s recent efforts to ramp up the tourism and culture sector

The tourism and culture industry (including commercial performances) plays an important role in China’s economic recovery. Tourism and cultural activities integrate food, accommodation, transportation, travel, shopping, entertainment, and many other sectors. The development of the tourism and culture market will have an obvious driving effect on other relevant industries, so as to improve the local economy. At the same time, the tourism and culture industry is a big job creator, and thus vital to China’s efforts to mitigate unemployment, especially among its youth.

Since China decided to shift from “zero-COVID” to “living with COVID” in December 2022, it has loosened a series of travel restrictions on international arrivals imposed for COVID prevention.

Most recently, starting from March 15, 2023, China has resumed visa applications for tourism and medical treatment. The multi-year multiple entry visas issued before March 28, 2020 by Chinese visa authorities abroad will resume being valid, which will benefit foreigners with 10-year business or tourist visas that have time left on them. Moreover, the visa-exemption policy for Hainan, visa-exemption cruise policy for Shanghai, visa-exemption policy for foreigners to visit Guangdong from Hong Kong and Macao, and visa-exemption policy for ASEAN tour groups to Guilin and Guangxi has resumed operation.

With China determined to return to growth mode and speed-up economic recovery in 2023, we expect – more supporting policies to expand domestic consumption and increase business confidence will be released, including those related to the tourism and culture sector.

About Us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, and Russia, in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative. We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh.