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China blocks South Korea,Japan visitors over Covid rules

China authorities have stopped issuing short-term visas to individuals from South Korea and Japan as retaliation for Covid restrictions on Chinese travelers.

Beijing’s embassy in Seoul said visas for South Koreans entering China as tourists have been suspended.

Japanese media reported China was imposing similar measures there.

The move is a tit-for-tat which Beijing says will remain in place until ‘discriminatory’ entry restrictions against China are lifted.

Last week, South Korea stopped issuing tourist visas for those coming from China, which the Chinese foreign ministry called “unacceptable” and “unscientific”.

Reacting to China’s latest move, South Korea’s foreign ministry told the BBC that its policy towards arrivals from China was “in accordance with scientific and objective evidence”.

Japan meanwhile is currently allowing Chinese visitors into the country, provided they test negative for Covid.

According to South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency, around a third of all arrivals from China tested positive for Covid prior to the visa restrictions being put in place.

The measures are supposed to last at least until the end of the month, which would give scientists time to analyse for any potential new variants coming from China.

At the moment, only a small number of business or diplomatic travelers from China are being allowed into South Korea but they must test negative before departure and also on arrival.

Writing by Tersoo Nicholas