January 12, 2023 11:11
China on Wednesday further tightened entry restrictions for Koreans in retaliation for COVID restrictions on travelers from China here.
After China abruptly halted short-term visas for Koreans in a tit-for-tat on Tuesday, the National Immigration Administration said it is suspending exemptions from port visas and 72/144-visa-free transit for citizens of Korea and Japan.
It cited "discriminatory entry restrictions against Chinese nationals" in the two countries amid a surge of infections in China.
More than 20 countries have made it mandatory for travelers from China to bring a negative PCR test and suspended short-term visas, but Beijing singled out only Korea and Japan for retaliation.
President Yoon Suk-yeol asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain Korea's position to China, saying Korea's tightened quarantine "is a matter of protecting the country and its citizens from the disease based on scientific grounds."
"If we welcome a large number of people from a country where an infectious disease is spreading rapidly, Korea's healthcare system will collapse, not to mention the harm to the economy and security," he added.
Yoon recalled that when the coronavirus pandemic was rampant in China in 2020, the Moon Jae-in administration ignored expert advice to ban Chinese visitors, "which caused a rapid surge in infections at the time."
But Beijing for its part banned Korean travelers when the COVID situation got worse in Korea but improved in China, he added. "Whether to tighten or loosen COVID measures is a matter that we decide on our own," he said. "No foreign country can have a say in it."
The Chinese Embassy here on Wednesday said the halt to short-term visas "can be adjusted" if Korea scraps its own restrictions.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com