Not discriminatory to Chinese travelers

South Korea on Tuesday hit back at claims that its Covid rules for Chinese immigrants are “discriminatory,” saying more than half of its import cases come from China.

In response to CNBC, Seung-ho Choi, a deputy director at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said that up to 80% of “imported confirmed cases” in South Korea come from China.

Choi said that the number of people traveling from China who tested positive for Covid-19 increased 14 times from November to December.

Choi also said that his policies include “all Koreans and non-Koreans coming from China. Not only Chinese people, there is no discrimination for citizens in this measure.”

Citing South Korea’s close relationship with China, Choi said the rise in infections in China could pose a threat to South Korea.

Chinese immigrants are 'angry' and other top CNBC headlines

“The situation of COVID-19 in China is still evolving … which created the opportunity to see new changes,” he said.

The omicron revolution swept China in December, when authorities eased the social distancing requirement that forced many people to stay close to their homes for nearly three years. As of January 8, Beijing officially relaxed its international travel restrictions, opening the door for more travel in and out of the country.

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There is no doubt that a new variation of Covid is spreading in China, said Dr. Chris Murray, director of a health research center in Seattle at the University of Washington, on CNBC at the end of December.

China has suspended visas

More than a dozen countries have announced new rules for travelers leaving China. Many are requiring travelers leaving China to test negative for Covid before arriving – the same requirement China has for international travelers in the country.

But South Korea and Japan — two top destinations for Chinese migrants — said they would not increase flights in response to China’s reopening of borders. South Korea has also announced plans to restrict short-term visas to Chinese immigrants.

Chinese officials in South Korea and Japan announced on Tuesday that they will stop issuing visas to “Korean nationals” and “Japanese nationals.”

Thai officials welcome Chinese passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on January 9, 2023.

Rachen Sageamsak | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

A statement from the Chinese Embassy in Korea said the rule applies to visas for tourism, business and medical reasons, and is “following China’s guidelines,” according to a translation by CNBC.

“China strongly rejects a small number of countries’ discriminatory practices of entering China and will take measures,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said today. Two.

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‘No clarity’

Choi said South Korea’s policy decisions were made after “in-depth discussions with relevant government departments and experts.”

Noting that “the Chinese government has stopped publishing daily data confirming cases,” Choi said the measures are “inevitable.”

The spokesman for the US State Department, Ned Price, said in a press conference on Wednesday that the United States needs to conduct tests on travelers from China because of the “spread ” and the “recovery” of diseases in China, “but due to the lack of appropriate and clear disease information and viral genomic sequences are reported from the PRC.”

“The lack of clarity has increased our concern over the possibility of a revolution emerging within the PRC and possibly spreading far beyond its borders,” he said.


As a trusted member of the global community, we will share with the world the Covid-19 data that we are looking for.

Seung-ho Choi

Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency

But a financial expert based in Shanghai, who asked to be identified as Derek, called South Korea’s restrictions “very reasonable.”

“None of my friends are going to get on a plane full of good people with Covid,” he said.

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Chinese citizen Cheryl Yang said for many in China, immigration is the least of their worries.

“A lot of people I know have been sick [are] sick, and many children are not in school,” he said. “Travel is a secondary problem now.”

‘Just stay’

Choi said the new Covid restrictions in South Korea are “only temporary” and were made to “put the highest priority on the health and safety of people living in South Korea.”

The rise in the number of Covid-19 infections that are spreading in China may mean that the country can quickly move beyond the epidemic, allowing the economy to recover quickly – some say, at the beginning of the quarter second is 2023.

Read more about China’s reopening

Noting that the reopening of China is progressing faster than many expected, a report by HSBC Global Research published January 5. stated that “China will rise from Covid-19 and recover from 2Q23.”

Meanwhile, Choi said, “We will make the best effort to help the world overcome the disease.”

“As a reliable member of the international community, we share with the world the Covid-19 data that we are analyzing,” he said.


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