The government has decided to extend the restriction on short-term visa issuance for Chinese nationals, which was scheduled until the end of this month, until next month.

Earlier, as the number of corona19 infections in China surged, the government has not issued short-term visas to Chinese since the 2nd.

China has also stopped issuing short-term visas to Koreans in retaliation.

Right now, officials from Korean companies that have entered or are doing business with China are unable to go on short-term business trips to China.

Technologists who install, maintain, and repair factories or facilities in China are blocked from entering China.

Government "cannot rule out the possibility of re-proliferation from China after the Lunar New Year"

The government cited the variability of the Corona 19 situation in China after the Lunar New Year as the reason for extending the visa issuance restrictions.

"Domestic quarantine conditions are improving, but the possibility of re-proliferation through overseas influx, such as an increase in the epidemic after the Lunar New Year, cannot be completely ruled out," he said.

According to the quarantine authorities, out of the 1,404 confirmed cases imported from abroad over the past two weeks, 890 were confirmed from China.

The cumulative positive rate of short-term foreign residents since January 2nd, when all PCR tests for entrants from China began, is 10.4%.

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▲ January 27 press release from the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters

In addition to suspending the issuance of short-term visas, the government is implementing measures such as PCR testing before and after entry into China and suspension of increased flights.

These measures will also continue until the end of next month.

However, the government is in the position that visa issuance can be resumed if the situation improves even before then.

In fact, it is difficult to predict how the Corona 19 situation in China will change after the Lunar New Year, China's biggest holiday.

China's Lunar New Year holiday has already passed from the 21st to the 27th, but the population migration continues.

China has set the period from January 7th to February 15th as the Lunar New Year special transportation period, or 'Chunyun', and it is expected that 2 billion people will move during this period.

As the Korean government fears, the possibility of re-proliferation in China or the appearance of new mutations cannot be completely ruled out.

The Chinese government is likely to reveal its position at a briefing on the 30th

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The Chinese government has not yet made an official statement on Korea's extension of the visa issuance restriction.

The main reason is that there was no briefing from the Chinese government because it was the Lunar New Year holiday until the 27th, rather than because there was no dissatisfaction with this measure.

When the briefing of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs resumes on the 30th, it is expected that it will somehow clarify its position on this Korean action.

Chinese state media are reporting the news relatively calmly.

After reporting the actions of the Korean government, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson's last remarks are added at the end.

Earlier, at a briefing on the 16th, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Won-bin said, "Each country's quarantine measures must be scientific and appropriate, and they must not take discriminatory methods or engage in political trickery."

"Relevant countries should abolish discriminatory measures against China as soon as possible, and work together with China to restore personnel exchanges and exchanges and cooperation," he said.

As China has been professing 'corresponding measures', unless Korea first lifts the suspension of short-term visa issuance, the possibility that China will go ahead and lift the suspension of visa issuance is close to zero.

"Japan has canceled the visa, but only Korea has been extended"...

boycott proposal

On the other hand, some Chinese netizens are reacting rather furiously.

On Weibo, China's largest SNS, a hashtag titled '#Korea extends suspension of short-term visa issuance for Chinese' appeared, and as of the 28th, it has recorded 4 million views.

Comments such as "Permanently restrict visa issuance, I had no intention of traveling to Korea in the first place", "Not only Korea but also Chinese people who want to go to Korea should be criticized", "China should also take additional measures".

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▲ A Chinese blogger said that Korea's action was 'shameless' (pictured above), and another blogger suggested a boycott of Korean products.

Even popular Chinese bloggers are stoking crushes.

One blogger wrote, “I have no shame” about Korea’s extension of visa restrictions, and another blogger with 230,000 followers suggested a boycott, saying, “Let’s stop buying Korean cars, Korean cosmetics, Japanese cars and Japanese appliances, etc.” I did.

Other bloggers targeted only South Korea, saying, "Japan normalized visa issuance for Chinese citizens from January 21st, but Korea rather extended the suspension of visa issuance."

The picture of the 'yellow card necklace', which the Chinese protested as insulting, also reappeared.

Previously, the Korean quarantine authorities had yellow cards worn around their necks to distinguish short-term residents from China, but even Chinese state media protested that they "treat Chinese people as criminals."

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▲ Photos of Chinese people wearing yellow cards around their necks after going to Korea reappeared on Chinese portal sites and social media.

China "Corona 19 infected sharply decreased... no variant found"

The basis for this backlash is the perception that 'China's Corona 19 situation has already passed its peak, so why extend restrictions?'

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced on the 25th that the number of deaths, severely ill patients, hospitalized and infected people all decreased significantly in a report titled "National Corona 19 Infection Situation" released on the 25th.

The number of deaths plummeted by 79% compared to the peak, and the number of patients treated at fever clinics decreased by 96.2%, hospitalizations by 84.8%, and severely ill patients by 72%.

In addition, since the end of September last year, the dominant species in China have been the BA.5.2 and BF.7 mutations of the Omicron family, and they claimed that no new variants were found.

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▲ Trend of COVID-19 infections announced by Chinese quarantine authorities / Blue bar graph - Number of confirmed cases (unit: million) Red line graph - Positive rate (unit: %)

On the 8th of last month, as China rapidly shifted its quarantine policy from 'Zero Corona' to 'With Corona', it is true that the number of Corona 19 infections exploded, passed the peak, and is now in a calm state.

This is also revealed in the statistics of confirmed cases of Korean arrivals from China.

According to the Central Defense Countermeasures Headquarters, the positive rate of Corona 19 among Koreans arriving from China from January 15 to 21 was 2.9%.

On the 28th, on a Chinese portal site, an article was posted as a major news item, saying, "The 're-proliferation of Corona 19 during the Lunar New Year holiday' that experts warned did not occur."

As a result of covering the actual situation of Corona 19 in rural areas during the Lunar New Year holiday, most of those infected with Corona 19 recovered, and there were not many new cases of infection.

The statistics of infected people announced by the Chinese authorities are still distrusted by the West, and in the first place, there are aspects in which China has brought restrictions on entry from China by countries with opaque statistics.

However, as Korea first announced the suspension of short-term visa issuance, and only Korea announced the extension of the visa issuance suspension this time, we cannot help but worry about the situation in which China's target is focused only on Korea.