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Flying through Beijing: Transit without Visa Question

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Hi all,
I have been getting conflicting reports over the past few days about the TWOV option when flying through PEK.
Our issue/My question:
Our family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids) are flying RT from SFO to BKK in late Dec/return early January, with stops in Beijing (PEK) on both routes. On the way to BKK, we only have a couple of hours of layover, but on the return flight, we have 9 hours (6:30am - 4:00pm). We have been told by some that we can go through immigration WITHOUT A VISA and leave the airport for the day as long as we have proof of our flight leaving PEK within 24 hours to another country (called a transit stamp).

We would prefer not to get a visa, as they are $140 each, ($700 for family of 5), and if our plane from BKK is running late, we won't have time to leave the airport anyways (and that seems like an obscene amount of money to spend for just a few hours).

Per the IATA website/TIMATIC, this is possible. Per China websites, this is not. On TripAdvisor Forums, people saying yes, this is possible (and easy to do). My father's travel connections in China (used to work there) say no, we need visas.

Would love to know that there is a definitive source of information that I can print out and show at PEK in case of a problem (or know for sure that we can't, so we can figure out which is worse - spending $700 for the visas or spending 9 hours in PEK Terminal 3 with 3 very tired/whiny/cranky kids who just took a redeye from BKK and probably an equally cranky husband).

Any help is much appreciated!!!!

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