China to resume short-term visa issuance to S. Korean citizens

The Chinese Embassy in Seoul said Wednesday it will resume the issuance of short-term visas for South Korean citizens this weekend, lifting restrictions it imposed in early January as a retaliatory step for its neighbor's tighter border controls over COVID-19.

The restart of visa issuance on Saturday follows South Korea's termination of similar restrictions last weekend as COVID-19 infections in China subside.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning had said at a press conference last Friday that Beijing would "actively consider" removing restrictions introduced on Jan. 10 on its short-term visa issuance to South Korean citizens.

Earlier this year, South Korea, Japan and several other countries strengthened border controls for travelers from China, which reopened its borders and scrapped quarantine measures on Jan. 8, amid fears over widespread COVID-19 infections in the country.

Beijing subsequently halted visa issuances for Japanese and South Korean travelers, criticizing the entry restrictions on visitors from China as "discriminatory," but the measure for Japanese citizens was lifted on Jan. 29.

Japan is considering easing border controls on travelers arriving from China by the end of this month. Instead of requiring testing of all visitors from China, Tokyo plans to adopt a selective approach to testing arrivals, according to a government source.

© Kyodo News