Effective January 2021, the Chinese Government notified all airlines that travel to China would be suspended all flights from and to Hong Kong. This caused an immediate increase in air traffic into the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong as well as other cities. The reason given was that Hong Kong is not a member of the Chinese government. Although China does not regard its territory as belonging to Hong Kong, the Chinese Government reserves the right to take actions against any interference from Hong Kong. The effect of this decision to close down all flights to China from Hong Kong was economic in nature.
The main reason behind this move to impose travel restrictions to China is the need to appease the Chinese public. Many citizens of China feel that they are the victims of a power struggle between the PRC (the current ruling government) and the PRD (the former ruling communist government). The latter is accused of “covert influence” and of economic and social engineering schemes to gain global superiority at the cost of China’s economy. Both sides are guilty of these allegations, but so far, China has refused to succumb to these stances.
In light of the recent spat between the PRC and the DPRK (North Korea), travelling to China may not be easy now. Some citizens of both countries fear that they will suffer reciprocation, as the PRC imposes a travel advisory stating that the citizens of the PRC are not eligible for visa on arrival in China. The new regime in North Korea also issued a similar travel advisory last year but has yet to implement it. The travel advisories have prompted the cancellation of a number of flights to China.
The new visa restrictions come on the heels of the discovery that the two governments were conducting coordinated currency exchanges. Currency devaluation of the Chinese currency against the US dollar had led to increased tensions between the two countries. The United States citizens had become increasingly worried about the possibility of their dollars being stolen by the Chinese government or their banks. On the other hand, the Chinese government did not have any problem with the currency devaluation. Hence, the citizens of both the countries incurred huge losses and the exchange rate imbalance created a situation where the Chinese nationals were able to acquire more US dollars than the Chinese nationals were able to obtain from abroad.
The new travel advisories effectively impose an entry ban on any person travelling to China. These include tourists who have travelled to China within the past fourteen days and those who have been to the country within the past eighteen months. It is estimated that nearly six hundred thousand tourists will be affected by this latest round of Chinese travel restrictions.
The first round of Chinese entry restrictions came on the heels of the implementation of the China Travel Act. The Consolidated Employment Regulations also came into force on the twenty-first day of February. The main purpose behind these two acts was to facilitate the smooth conduct of business in China. These acts included the implementation of various rules and regulations related to the entry of foreign workers into the country. The regulations prohibit the employees of foreign employers to work for any of the foreign-owned corporations in China and bars employees of such corporations from travelling outside China for the period of fourteen days during the working period.
The second round of Chinese entry ban was imposed on travelers to south Korea. A circular from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified all Chinese citizens and all passport offices around the world that they will not be allowed to issue new passports based on the current designations of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The circular also stipulated that all travel permits to south Korea must be applied for via the Beijing International Airport instead of through the Shanghai International Airport.
Also, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a meeting has been held between the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance. This meeting brought about the decision to impose an exit ban for Chinese citizens traveling using Air China, one of the most popular state-owned airline. At present, there are only limited numbers of direct flights from and to south Korea. All other flights are currently suspended all together.