China halts short-term visas in South Korea, first response to Covid curbs

Printed Chinese and South Korean flags are seen in this illustration, on July 21, 2022.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING/SEOUL - The Chinese embassy in South Korea has suspended issuing short-term visas for South Korean visitors, it said on Tuesday (Jan 10), the first retaliatory move against nations imposing Covid-19 curbs on travellers from China.

The embassy will adjust the policy subject to the lifting of South Korea's "discriminatory entry restrictions" against China, it said on its official WeChat account.

A Chinese embassy official confirmed the new measures.

The announcement comes a day after Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed concern about the restrictions in a telephone call with his South Korean counterpart Park Jin, according to China's foreign ministry.

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South Korea's Park told Qin the new border restrictions were "science-based" measures, according to his office.

Last week, South Korean police tracked down a Chinese man who went missing while awaiting quarantine after having tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival.

The incident raised concern about the spread of the virus from China after Beijing abruptly abandoned its tough "zero-Covid" policy and opened its borders despite widespread domestic infections.

South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Monday the country's border measures should focus strictly on the safety of its citizens.