In 2013, Beijing implemented a new visa-free transit policy. The policy allows international travelers who transfer at the Beijing Capital Airport to stay in the city for sightseeing without a visa.

As Xinhua News reports:

Goods including pets and food are prohibited from entering Beijing, although they can be stored upon arrival. Travelers are allowed to apply to retrieve them upon departure, although this did not previously apply to those taking advantage of the 72-hour visa-free transit policy.

This does not apply to certain fresh foods because they are difficult to preserve.

If you are unfamiliar with the 72-hour visa-free transit, this policy applies to passport holders of the following countries:

Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

Those who take up on this visa-waiving offer cannot leave the city of Beijing during the 72 hours, however. This policy has also been adopted by Shanghai and Guangzhou (starting June 2013).

Those who have confirmed flight tickets and have a valid visa to the third country have 72 hours in Beijing. The clock starts ticking the moment they receive their transfer permits. Starting this Wednesday, these visa-free tourists can now retrieve prohibited-entry goods when they leave,