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China against Japan and South Korea: the new struggle in Asia over COVID-19

The relationships between China and its two powerful Asian neighbors have never been the best. That Japan Y South Korea be allies of the West has not been well regarded by Beijing for decades, but the pandemic of coronavirus it has strengthened the gap and mistrust. And the quarrels have skyrocketed since Tokyo and Seoul recently decided to impose restrictions on Chinese travelers in the face of the omicron wave that is affecting the Asian giant.

China has responded angrily and has suspended the issuance of temporary visas for travelers from South Korea and Japan that is in transit. Before, they could stay up to 144 hours in some Chinese cities without requesting prior authorization.

“The national immigration authorities have suspended, with immediate effect, the issuance of visas to Korean and Japanese citizens and the visa waiver policy for transit entries” the Chinese administration in charge of immigration detailed in a statement. That is “in response to recent discriminatory entry restrictions imposed by some countries on Chinese citizens”.

Passengers on a plane from China’s capital Beijing arrive and proceed to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing area at Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon) (KIM KYUNG-HOON/)

According to the official newspaper “Global Times”, it is “a direct and reasonable response” that has the objective of “protecting their legitimate interests” after “Some countries exaggerated the epidemic situation in China and imposed travel restrictions in a clear display of political manipulation.”

Since the end of 2022, concern has spread around the world over the abrupt decision of the Chinese regime to lift the strict policy of covid zero that governed the life of the Asian giant for three years, and allow travelers to leave the country without further impediment.

READ ALSO: About 250,000 passengers entered China on the first day of reopening the border

Given this, dozens of countries in the world -starting with the United States and several from the European Union- decided to require negative tests for COVID-19 from travelers from China. The same measures have been taken by Japan and South Korea. However, Beijing has responded only to its Asian neighbors. “Some countries have announced restrictions without taking into account science, facts and the actual epidemic situation”said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

“We call on those countries to take action based on facts and science, and to be proportionate. The response to COVID-19 must not be used as a pretext for political manipulation. You can’t discriminate”he claimed.

Complaints from Tokyo and Seoul

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Wednesday that he considers “significantly unfortunate” China has stopped issuing short-stay visas to its citizens and called on Beijing to align its pandemic measures with “objective scientific facts.”

According to South Korea’s Agency for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17% of the 2,550 short-term travelers from China from Jan. 2 to Tuesday tested positive for COVID-19.

Passengers arriving from China to South Korea undergo discard tests at Incheon International Airport in South Korea.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Passengers arriving from China to South Korea undergo discard tests at Incheon International Airport in South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) (Ahn Young-joon/)

South Korea has been particularly strict as it has also stopped issuing most short-term visas at its consulates in China until the end of January and will require all passengers coming from China, Hong Kong and Macao to present negative tests conducted in 48 hours prior to arrival, in addition to passing an additional COVID-19 test at the airport.

Japan, for its part, since January 8 requires travelers from Chinese territory, with the exception of Hong Kong, to present a negative PCR certificate before boarding, and to undergo a test upon arrival in the country, but the granting of visas for Chinese has not been affected. “It is unfortunate that China has unilaterally frozen visas for reasons other than COVID-19 prevention, while Japan is trying to take measures trying to avoid affecting the flow of international travelers as much as possible,” Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said about it.

READ ALSO: China ends quarantines for international travelers

global concern

Meanwhile, the WHO does not stop insisting on the unclear information provided by the Chinese Government regarding the number of infected and dead, which has put the rest of the world on alert due to the fear that a new wave of the virus will affect the planet. .

“Last week 11,500 deaths from Covid were reported globally (…), but this number is almost certainly an underestimate, given the lack of data on deaths related to the disease in China”said the organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Similar criticisms of China were launched by the head of WHO Health Emergencies, Mike Ryan, who stressed that “we lack the adequate information to make a full assessment of the risks.”

Source: Elcomercio

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