China scraps visa-free transit for South Korea, Japan travellers over Covid curbs

Earlier, Beijing announced that it would stop issuing short-term visas for citizens from the two Asian countries


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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Published: Wed 11 Jan 2023, 12:44 PM

Beijing said on Wednesday it would scrap visa-free transit for South Korean and Japanese citizens after both countries placed travel curbs on visitors from China.

South Korea and Japan have in recent weeks imposed fresh travel requirements on all visitors from China, as the world's most populous country battles a surge in Covid cases.

China hit back at what it deems "unacceptable" curbs, ending short-term visas for all South Korean and Japanese citizens on Tuesday.

Immigration authorities stepped up that retaliation on Wednesday "in response to the recent discriminatory entry restrictions imposed by a few countries on Chinese citizens."

"The national immigration authorities have, with immediate effect, suspended the issuance of visas for Korean and Japanese citizens and the 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy for South Korean and Japanese citizens," China's National Immigration Administration said in a statement.

Travellers from scores of countries are eligible for 72-hour visa-free transit through China if they can show proof of pending travel to a third country, with some eligible for a 144-hour stay in certain cities and provinces.

That policy was complicated by the pandemic, with China requiring all inbound travellers to undergo mandatory quarantines -- a requirement lifted on Sunday.

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