China has suspended the issuance of short-term visas to citizens of South Korea and Japan, its embassies in Seoul and Tokyo said on Tuesday, in an apparent retaliatory move over COVID-19 restrictions. 19 imposed on Chinese tourists following a spike in coronavirus cases in the country. .
Seoul and Tokyo have joined more than a dozen countries that have imposed new travel restrictions on arrivals from China over fears of a spike in infections after Beijing changed its strict policy. “Zero COVID” last month following widespread protests.
Beijing says the restrictions on its citizens are discriminatory and not based on science.
“Chinese embassies and consulates in South Korea will suspend the issuance of short-term visas to Korean nationals,” the Chinese embassy in Seoul said, adding that the measures would was “re-adjusted in accordance with South Korea’s lifting of discriminatory entry restrictions against China”. .
Beijing’s embassy in Tokyo announced in a brief statement late Tuesday that the issuance of visas to Japanese nationals would also be halted, giving no specific reason or indication of the measure. How long will this law last?
The move comes shortly after Japan tightened its COVID-19 regulations for travelers coming directly from China, requiring a negative result for a PCR test done in less than 72 hours. before departure, as well as testing negative upon arrival in Japan.
Seoul introduced a series of measures against visitors from China last month, including visa restrictions and testing requirements.
But the virus is spreading among the country’s 1.4 billion people, and concerns about the size and impact of the outbreak have left Japan, South Korea, FranceUSA and other countries to request a negative COVID-19 test from travelers from China.
“China seems to be using Korea and Japan to send a message To other countrieshas imposed restrictions on Chinese visitors in the hope that they will roll [them] back and it also wants countries looking at these restrictions to think hard about it,” said Katrina Yu of Al Jazeera, reporting from Beijing.
China currently does not issue tourist visas and requires a negative COVID-19 test for all arrivals.
South Korea is also restricting flights from China and travelers from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau must test negative before departure – measures that Seoul’s foreign minister has defended as “consistent with the scientific evidence”.
Mainland travelers are also being tested on arrival and are required to quarantine for a week if they test positive, authorities said.
China has stopped publishing daily infections despite facing its worst outbreak in three years. It has reported five or fewer deaths a day since the policy change, numbers that have been disputed by the World Health Organization and inconsistent with funeral providers reporting needs. increased demand.
Some governments have expressed concerns about Beijing’s data transparency as international experts predict at least one million deaths in China this year. Washington has also raised concerns about potential future mutations of the virus.
China dismisses criticism of its data as politically motivated efforts to smear its “success” in handling the pandemic and indicates any future spikes. Both are more infectious but less harmful.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has adopted an open and transparent attitude.
But as infections surge across China’s vast rural hinterland, many people, including the elderly victims, are not being tested.
Al Jazeera’s Yu said the move would impact all parties involved, as China is South Korea and Japan’s largest trading partner.
“There are a lot of Japanese and Korean businesses operating here and they won’t be able to send their sales staff here to directly take care of those people,” she said. “This will also affect China’s external economic profits. But Beijing says it has the right to impose retaliatory measures against these countries.”