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Malay Mail

SEOUL, Jan 11 ― China’s recent decision to suspend the issue of short-term visas in South Korea was “deeply regrettable”, the South’s Foreign Minister Park Jin said today.

Yesterday’s suspension by the Chinese embassy in South Korea was China’s first retaliatory move against countries imposing Covid-19 curbs on its travellers.

“It’s deeply regrettable China took such a countermeasure by entirely suspending issuance of short-term visas,” Park told a news briefing, adding that South Korea still issues visas to Chinese visitors for urgent business or humanitarian purposes.

Last week, South Korea ordered a PCR test for travellers arriving from China, joining a growing list of nations adopting border curbs amid concern over infections, after China abruptly ended its stringent “zero-Covid” policy.

Arrivals must also provide a negative result of a PCR test taken up to 48 hours before starting their journey, or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours.

Some Chinese tourists have complained over such curbs, which are the strictest among the new rules countries have adopted, but South Korea said they were not discriminatory.

“All domestic and foreign travellers coming to South Korea from China are subject to the latest measures, and there is no discrimination based on nationality,” the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said in a statement.

It called the measures “inevitable” and “temporary”.

Park urged Beijing to make quarantine decisions on the basis of scientific and objective reasons, adding that Seoul would review its measures depending on the Covid situation in China.

“I don’t think it’s desirable for these measures to have any negative impact on the South Korea-China relations,” Park added. “We will maintain our science-based, objective stance regarding quarantine measures.”

In a policy briefing earlier to President Yoon Suk-yeol, the foreign ministry vowed to pursue “confident” diplomacy with China. ― Reuters

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