Chinese Embassy in South Korea to resume issuing short-term visas starting Feb 18
Published: Feb 15, 2023 09:17 AM
Photo: screenshot from the Chinese Embassy in South Korea

Photo: screenshot from the Chinese Embassy in South Korea

Starting from February 18, the Chinese embassy and consulates in South Korea will resume issuing short-term visas for South Korean citizens to visit China, for business, transit and general private affairs, according to the Chinese Embassy in South Korea on Wednesday.

This is regarded as a positive sign for travel and communications between the Chinese and South Korean people as a response after South Korea resumed short-term visa issuance for travelers from China on Saturday.

As South Korea has resumed the issuance of short-term visas for Chinese citizens, China's National Immigration Administration will resume the issuance of port visas and the 72/144-hour transit visa-free policy for S.Korean citizens from February 18 on, the administration also announced on Wednesday.

China downgraded its COVID-19 management measures from Class A to Class B and resumed cross-border travel and business starting from January 8. However, a few countries, including the US, insisted on discriminatory entry restrictions against travelers from China. The US on January 5 required all travelers from China to show a negative COVID-19 test result before flying to the country.

On January 2, South Korea launched discriminatory entry restrictions on travelers from China under the guise of concerns over China's COVID-19 infection wave, halting the issuance of short-term visas from its diplomatic missions in China and performing compulsive COVID-19 tests on passengers from China after they disembark.

In response, China imposed its first countermeasure on January 10 toward the discriminatory and unnecessary travel restrictions by suspending short-term visas for South Korean citizens seeking to visit China. The measure was considered to be China's direct and reasonable response to protect its own legitimate interests, particularly after some countries are continuing hyping up China's epidemic situation by putting travel restrictions for political manipulation despite that many public health experts around the globe have criticized it as a "toxic trend." 

The countermeasure would be reassessed as soon as South Korea removes its discriminatory travel restrictions targeting travelers from China, the Chinese Embassy in South Korea has said in January.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly urged individual countries including South Korea to lift their discriminatory measures against China arrivals, firmly opposed politicizing COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control.

With utmost sincerity and in a fact-based attitude, China has fully communicated with relevant countries and elaborated on the scientific and rational nature of China's measures to optimize and adjust COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control, as well as the current epidemic situation in China, the spokesperson stressed.

However, regrettably, certain countries still insist on discriminatory entry restrictions against China. China firmly opposes this and has every reason to take necessary reciprocal measures, Mao stated.

She said that China always firmly opposes politicizing epidemic prevention and control and believes that discriminatory restrictions against China should be lifted. 

Insiders warned that, as China is ready to resume outbound group tours in February, the extended restrictions of South Korea are likely to make it miss the tourism dividend brought by massive pent-up demand for international travel from Chinese travelers, when many countries are yearning for economic growth with the contribution of Chinese tourists in the post-epidemic era.

Facts prove that China witnessed warm and joyful Spring Festival holidays with its airports, bus terminals and train stations crowded and migrants reuniting with their family members, unlike Western media speculation that the country would experience an "epidemic tsunami" following the Spring Festival travel rush.

A Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention report released on Saturday said the number of positive tests reached a peak on December 22, 2022 at 6.94 million, and dropped to a low of 15,000 on January 23, citing nucleic acid test results reported by nationwide provincial authorities.

Global Times