China Hints at Tougher Travel Restrictions

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China hints at tougher travel restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus in the country. The impending restrictions have sparked public outcry and unrest, especially as the country has already put in place strict measures to combat corona infections.

 

The National Immigration Service suggested further limiting unnecessary outbound travel for Chinese citizens. It will also become more difficult to obtain China’s necessary entry and exit documents. With the stricter measures, China, which has a zero-covid policy, wants to prevent the virus from being introduced into the country.

China is struggling to contain the worst outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. A million cities in Shanghai have been almost completely closed for weeks. The residents of Beijing fear that it will soon be their turn too.

The announcement by the Chinese authorities is in line with previously issued guidelines. Nevertheless, the repetition of the message is causing growing frustration about the economic and social costs of China’s corona policy. In addition to domestic lockdowns, the country has effectively shut itself off from the world for the past two years. As a result, China has become isolated while other countries in the world are learning to live with the virus.

Last year, 128 million people travelled to and from China. That is less than a fifth of the number before the crisis. The country only issued 335,000 passports in the first half of 2021. That number is less than 2 percent of the number of issuances in the same period in 2019.

The prolonged lockdown of Shanghai, the country’s financial centre where many Chinese multinationals are headquartered, has already caused many people to leave. Uncertainty about when normal life can resume indicates more people will follow.

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