China has suspended the issuance of short-stay visas for South Koreans, the Beijing embassy in Seoul announced on Tuesday, in response to health restrictions imposed by Seoul on Chinese travelers, which it considers “discriminatory”.
“Embassies and consulates in Korea will suspend the issuance of short-stay visas for Korean citizens,” the embassy said, noting that these measures “will be adjusted based on Seoul’s removal of discriminatory entry restrictions at home.” ‘respect to China’.
In December, Seoul imposed a series of health restrictions for travelers from mainland China, including visa restrictions, flight restrictions and the requirement to present drug tests, citing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases. 19 in China.
Travelers from China must now provide a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of boarding to South Korea or a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure.
According to official figures, 2,224 Chinese nationals with short-stay visas have landed in South Korea since Jan. 2, and 17.5 percent of them tested positive upon arrival.
Seoul also restricted the issuance of short-stay visas to Chinese nationals, except government officials, diplomats and people with crucial humanitarian and business purposes, until the end of January.
Seoul has also reduced the number of flights from China, which must also now land only at Incheon International Airport, about fifty kilometers west of Seoul.
Jeju Island in the south of the country, which has its own international airport and separate visa entry regime, was a popular tourist destination for Chinese nationals before the pandemic.
Seoul “inevitably strengthens some anti-epidemic measures to prevent the spread of the virus in our country due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in China,” South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said when announcing the measures.
The number of Chinese tourists to the country rose from 6.02 million in 2019 to 200,000 from January to November in 2022, accounting for only 7.5 percent of foreign tourists, the South Korean ministry told AFP. of the culture.