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China halts visas for Japan, South Korea in COVID-19 spat

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China halts visas for Japan, South Korea in COVID-19 spat



Chinese embassies stopped issuing new visas for South Koreans and Japanese on Tuesday in apparent retaliation for COVID-19 measures recently imposed by those countries on travelers from China.To get more china business news, you can visit shine news official website.

It wasn’t clear whether China would expand the visa suspensions to other countries that have imposed virus testing on passengers from China following its COVID-19 surge.

The embassies in Tokyo and Seoul announced the suspensions in brief online notices.

The Seoul notice, posted on the embassy’s WeChat social media account, said the ban would continue until South Korea lifts its “discriminatory entry measures” against China. The announcement covered tourist, business and some other visas.China’s Foreign Ministry threatened countermeasures last week against countries that had announced new virus testing requirements for travelers from China. At least 10 in Europe, North America and Asia have done so recently, with officials expressing concern about a lack of information about the Chinese outbreak and the potential for new virus variants to emerge.

South Korea had also stopped issuing most short-term visas at its consulates in China for the month of January, except for government activities, essential business and humanitarian reasons. Japan has not announced a similar step.

China’s embassy in Tokyo said only that visa issuance had been suspended. The announcements appeared to apply only to new applicants, with nothing about people currently holding visas.

Japan has protested the move through diplomatic channels, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in Argentina.

“It is extremely regrettable that China has restricted visa issuances,” he said, adding that Japan would respond appropriately while watching China’s outbreak and how much information the government shares about it.

A South Korean Foreign Ministry statement said that “our government’s step to strengthen anti-virus measures on passengers arriving from China is based on scientific and objective evidence ... and we have communicated with the Chinese side in advance.”

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said earlier that it would be “regrettable” if restrictions were imposed. The official spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

A withholding of visas from South Korean or Japanese businesspeople could delay a hoped-for revival of commercial activity and potential new investment following China’s abrupt lifting of anti-virus controls last month.Business groups had warned earlier that global companies were shifting investment plans away from China because it was too hard for foreign executives to visit under the pandemic controls. A handful of foreign auto and other executives have visited China over the past three years, but many companies have relied on Chinese employees or managers already in the country to run their operations.

A South Korean restaurant owner in Beijing said the announcement forced friends to postpone plans to visit China. He spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern his business might be affected. He added that he is preparing to renew his Chinese work visa and doesn’t know whether that will be affected.In a phone call on Monday before the visa suspension was announced, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang “expressed concern” about the measures taken by South Korea to his counterpart, Foreign Minister Park Jin. Qin said he “hopes that the South Korean side will uphold an objective and scientific attitude.”

China’s move appeared to be grounded in its demands that its citizens be treated the same as those of other countries. About a dozen countries have followed the U.S. in requiring either a negative test before departing China, a virus test on arrival at the airport, or both.

“Regrettably, a handful of countries, in disregard of science and facts and the reality at home, have insisted on taking discriminatory entry restriction measures targeting China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Tuesday. “China firmly rejected this and took reciprocal measures.”

He did not respond directly when asked if new visas had been suspended for South Koreans and Japanese, saying only that he had “made it very clear.”
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