China halts South Korean and Japanese visas in reciprocal move over pandemic controls

Since China announced its decision to optimize its policies on Covid-19 controls and cross-border travel, many countries have welcomed the move.

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Travelers walk at Capital International Airport in Beijing. [Photo/Agencies]

January 11, 2023

BEIJING РChina has suspended issuing visas for South Korean and Japanese citizens as Beijing urged countries to adopt a fact-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vowed to take reciprocal measures against discrimi­natory entry restrictions.

The Chinese embassy in Seoul said in a statement on Tuesday that short-term visas for South Koreans to visit China for business, tourism and other personal affairs will be suspended.

Adjustment of the suspension will not be considered until South Korea lifts its discriminatory requirements for travelers from China to enter the country, the statement said.

Later on Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in Tokyo announced that it had suspended processing and issuing regular visas for Japanese citizens to visit China. The suspension took effect on Tuesday, and it has not been announced when the services would resume, the embassy said in a statement.

Since China announced its decision to optimize its policies on COVID control and cross-border travel in December, many countries have welcomed the move. However, some nations, such as South Korea and Japan, have imposed restrictions targeting China including mandatory COVID testing upon arrival.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday that China has been in communication with related countries and has elaborated the science-based and reasonable refinement of its COVID control measures and the nation’s COVID situation.

In a phone conversation with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin on Monday, Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed his concern over the restrictions adopted by South Korea, saying that he hoped South Korea would maintain an objective and scientific stance.

Noting that China is firmly opposed to such measures and will take reciprocal measures, Wang said, “Regrettably, a handful of countries, in disregard of science and facts, have insisted on taking discriminatory entry restriction measures targeting China.”

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