China denies visas for South Korea and Japan for COVID-19 management

China has announced that it will not be offering short-term visas to citizens of South Korea and Japan as a part of their own COVID-19 management process. During the first week of January, Japan and South Korea had announced that they will be subjecting visitors from China to a COVID-19 test to check if they are negative for coronavirus infection or not. This was a COVID-19 management measure which was supported by the WHO as well. But China had expressed its displeasure with these restrictions and had issued a warning to all the countries with such restrictions over visitors from China. Following these comments, China has restricted the complete entry of visitors from South Korea and Japan as these countries have applied some of the most strict restrictions. South Korea last week announced that it will not be providing tourist visas to Chinese citizens, to which China seems to have taken reciprocative measures. Japan, on the other hand, is restricting several flights coming from China in its premises. China also announced that the visa restrictions will stay in place as long as South Korea and Japan will have restrictions on Chinese visitors.

After its battle with the COVID-19 outbreak, China opened its borders for the world on Sunday January 8, after almost three years. Because of its stringent Zero-COVID policy, no one from outside was allowed to enter the country. But after lowering the restrictions under Zero-COVID policy, the number of new coronavirus cases significantly increased in China. The situation in the country became so severe that the healthcare system in the country started crumbling to address the ever growing influx of patients. Healthcare staff was overworking to address the growing hospital admissions due to surging coronavirus infection. In Beijing, China’s capital, many healthcare professionals reported that they were being advised to work if they had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. The World Health Organization asked Chinese officials to provide COVID-19 related data to help the agency understand the spread of infection in the country. Similar data was asked by the US officials, which was completely denied by the Chinese officials. Because of which, the US, the UK, Canada, India, and many other countries made it mandatory for the Chinese visitors to produce a COVID-19 negative report. 

Commenting on the visa restrictions applied by China on South Korean citizens, South Korean officials said that all the decisions which were taken by them against Chinese citizens were tied to scientific evidence. The Disease Control and Prevention Agency of South Korea announced that out of all the Chinese visitors who arrived in the country, over one third of them were tested positive for the infection. Only after these results, South Korea applied the visa restrictions on Chinese visitors. South Korean citizens have stood in support of this decision by their government as it ensures their own safety. But many have even said that these restrictions are backed by a political agenda between these two countries. South Korea and China do not have good relations, and a wide population in South Korea dislikes China as the coronavirus infection started from China.