January 11, 2023 09:34
China on Tuesday suspended short-term visas for Koreans in retaliation against what it claimed are "discriminatory" COVID measures taken by Korea.
The abrupt suspension came without prior notice, disrupting plans for many who were about to visit the country.
Among many countries who restricted entry for travelers from China amid a surge of COVID infections there, Korea and Japan were singled out for retaliation. Kyodo News reported that China also suspended short term-visas for Japanese travelers.
The move came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, "It is regrettable that a small number of countries still insist on adopting discriminatory entry restrictions against China in disregard of scientific facts and the actual situation of the pandemic in their own countries. China firmly opposes this and will take reciprocal measures."
The Korean government expressed "regret" over the move.
A Chinese Embassy staffer here said, "The tit-for-tat measure can be adjusted if discriminatory entry restrictions taken by Korea against China are canceled."
Korea has halted short-term visas for visitors from China from Jan. 2 to 31 amid a surge of infections there as the Chinese government lifted lockdown in a dramatic U-turn after unprecedented protests.
Despite the draconian lockdown, COVID vaccination uptake in China is among the lowest in the world.
Lim Soo-suk, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, "Korea's strengthened quarantine measures were taken based on scientific and objective grounds."
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