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China stops issuing visas for travelers from S. Korea, Japan in retaliation for COVID restrictions

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    China has stopped issuing short-term visas in South Korea and Japan as “reciprocal measures,” citing “discriminatory entry restrictions” against the nation.

    Due to concerns regarding the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in China, many countries, including the U.S., Japan and South Korea, have announced new precautionary measures for travelers departing from China.

    Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that travelers from China must present a negative COVID-19 test result no more than two days before flying to the U.S. The measure took effect on Jan. 5.

    South Korea and Japan have announced that they will not be increasing flights from China and will be limiting where planes can land. 

    Travelers are also required to take pre- and post-departure COVID PCR tests. 

    In addition, South Korea has also limited short-term visas to Chinese travelers, causing anger among Chinese officials and travelers.

    “This is a political issue,” Shaun Rein, the managing director of China Market Research Group, told Squawk Box Asia on Monday. “It’ll take about three months for the anger to dissipate. There’s going to be massive revenge travel outside to Korea to Japan — if those two countries treat Chinese properly.”

    In a retaliatory move on Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in South Korea announced that the embassy has suspended the issuance of short-term visas to South Korean citizens visiting China.

    “China is firmly opposed to this and has taken reciprocal measures,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference.

    The embassy added that the measure may be adjusted depending on South Korea’s cancellation of the “discriminatory entry restrictions against Chinese citizens.” 

    “We once again call on relevant countries to take scientific and appropriate measures based on facts to address the pandemic instead of using it to engage in political manipulation or discriminatory practices,” Wang said. “Normal people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between countries should not be affected.”

    Similarly, the Chinese Embassy in Japan announced that they had suspended the issuance of ordinary visas for Japanese citizens hoping to visit China. 

    However, Japan reportedly continues to process Chinese travel visa requests.

    On Dec. 27, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan’s latest precautionary measures are “to avoid a sharp increase in the influx of new cases into the country” by “focusing efforts on entry inspections and airports.”

    The Chinese embassy did not note when the travel visas would resume.

    Following announcements on the new COVID-19 testing requirements for Chinese travelers, Asian community advocates in the U.S. have expressed concern

    Advocates said that singling out a specific group of travelers could potentially start a new wave of anti-Asian hate incidents.

    Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni suggested “requiring negative tests for all travelers, no matter where they come from.” 


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