Hong Kong, Macau, India, US Restricting Travel to China
Travel to China is restricted under current international travel law. You need a visa to travel to China. Chinese visa application centers have opened up across the UK. On 4 November, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that it was “temporarily suspend [the application of] Chinese visa applications from within the UK.” On 5 November, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that it would investigate the reports of the suspension and take necessary measures to resume normal functioning. On 7 November, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a further clarification saying that it “will not give entry to Chinese citizens without obtaining the consent of the British Airways Company.”
Currently, there are no entry requirements to travel to China. However, Chinese officials may still ask you to leave the country if you have not acquired a full leave letter from the Chinese embassy. They will also check to see if you have the appropriate documentation. If you do not leave the country on the date specified in your visa, you will risk arrest and possible fines. Some people believe that by violating the agreement and failing to leave the country, they can avoid arrest and prosecution for visa violation. While this argument may appear reasonable, it is not likely to stand up in a Chinese court.
As with all exit and entry restrictions, there are possible abuses of the exit and entry system. The current round of restrictive measures was implemented to prevent people from using the airports and ports to flee the country. The same arguments could be used to prevent individuals from leaving China via Hong Kong. Many flights have been canceled due to the Chinese authorities’ implementation of tighter restrictions. Many flights were expected to return from Hong Kong to Beijing later this year.
In addition to the Chinese government’s efforts to prevent citizens from leaving China via Hong Kong, officials in south Korea have also imposed entry bans. The governments in Seoul and Taipei have accused China of undermining trade relations through its treatment of South Korean companies operating in China. The allegations are similar to those that American authorities levied against China after the incidents of ship attacks on South Korean merchant vessels. In addition, Taiwan has accused China of exerting pressure on its neighbor, particularly over the island territory that separates it from China. In response, China has warned of “unnecessary interference” in Taiwanese activities.
The United Kingdom and United States have imposed an entry ban on any person traveling to or leaving from China. The ban affects anyone with a travel history that includes visits to the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. The US government has similar travel restrictions on citizens of Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines. The British government has put travel to and from Hong Kong on the list of countries not eligible for a British passport. The restriction affects anyone traveling to or leaving from China whether for business or personal reasons. The British policy does not apply to children travelling without a family member.
There are conflicting reports as to why the British government implemented a ban on flights to and from China. According to a report from the Financial Times, the British Ministry of Defense released a document that claims that China was behind the recent hacking of its defense agencies’ databases. However, Chinese officials have denied involvement in the hack. Whether or not the allegations are true remains to be seen, as the Ministry of Defense has yet to release its own report.
There is a possibility that both the British and American governments are using the same strategy when imposing travel restrictions and blocking entry requirements for people visiting China. Many of the Chinese state-run media have published stories about the Dalai Lama’s visit to the US, and the Dalai Lama’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister. The Chinese communist party is also promoting its own version of events, and is urging the Tibetan community in India to boycott the visit of the Dalai Lama to the United States. There are suspicions that these measures are part of a wider Chinese effort to solidify their hold over the Himalayan region. The Dalai Lama has called on all Nepalese not to cooperate with the Chinese government and called on the Nepalese not to support the Dalai Lama.
Regardless of the motive, there are already signs that the measures being enforced against Chinese travelers are having an impact. According to a report in the Financial Times, many Chinese nationals are avoiding the Chinese territory altogether for fear of the new restrictions. Whether or not this is true, it is clear that the Chinese government needs to come clean about the reasons for putting down this travel warning.