Chinese embassies in South Korea and Japan have stopped issuing short-term visas in response to the countries’ COVID entry rules.
Beijing said it would no longer issue visas to South Korean or Japanese visitors because of both nations’ “discriminatory” restrictions for Chinese citizens.
It is the first retaliatory move against COVID restrictions for Chinese travellers introduced by countries around the world.
China says entry rules that require Chinese visitors to show a negative COVID test have no scientific basis.
Why has China suspended visas?
COVID curbs imposed on Chinese travellers come "in disregard of scientific facts and the actual epidemic situation in their own countries," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
Although Wang did not specifically mention South Korea or Japan, the visa suspension is being seen as a retaliatory move in response to those countries’ entry restrictions.
"China firmly rejects this and will take reciprocal measures," he added. "Countries should not ... engage in political manipulation or discriminatory practices."
South Korea has responded, saying there is scientific evidence for the measures that require Chinese visitors to show a negative PCR test.
"Our government's enhanced quarantine measures on travellers from China are based on scientific and objective evidence," South Korea ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk said following the news of the suspension.
What are the entry restrictions for Chinese travellers?
Japan and South Korea are just two of the countries that have introduced entry restrictions for Chinese citizens.
Japan requires a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before departure as well as a negative test on arrival.
South Korea has asked for a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours.
The country has also suspended short-term visas for Chinese nationals until the end of the month.
What are China’s entry restrictions?
Although China sees South Korea and Japan’s requirement for a negative COVID test as discriminatory, it has also imposed entry restrictions.
China no longer requires mandatory quarantine, but it still asks for a negative test result for all arrivals.
Coronavirus is on the rise again in China, just as the country removed the last major restrictions of its ‘zero-COVID’ policy.
China has also stopped publishing daily infection figures causing governments around the world to voice concerns over data transparency.