The United Nations, along with the United States and a few other select nations have imposed an entry ban on citizens of North Korea. This action is in response to the testing and developing of nuclear weapons by the DPRK. While no one doubts the capabilities of the DPRK to deliver such weapons to international terrorist organizations or send them straight into war, this particular move by them is deemed provocative and unacceptable. It also goes against all previous resolutions, as well as United Nations resolutions dealing with the Korean Peninsula. However, the United States and its allies have a different view on the matter. Here’s their take:
“The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the Chinese government for its decision to impose an exit ban on citizens of North Korea who wish to travel to China. “This ban violates international law and the norms of the United Nations,” said spokesperson Mark Houghton. “Chinese officials have indicated that they will enforce this new restriction, which flies in the face of diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions, and encourage dialogue between the two countries.” “While we deplore the Chinese action, we support their right to determine the rules of their country and their handling of sensitive information abroad,” said a spokesperson for the State Department.
On Wednesday, Chinese state media reported that the government had issued a new policy regarding travel to China. According to state media, China would only allow people with valid passports to enter the country. If citizens do not have a Chinese passport, they will be required to provide a registration card from the Chinese consulate. Those who cannot present the proper identification will be required to visit the consulate before being allowed to proceed to China.
The reasons given for the new measures are not entirely clear. However, according to CNN, the new measures are related to China’s upgrading of its airport security measures in an effort to prevent any security threats emanating from the country. The new measures are believed to be related to U.S.-Russian intelligence cooperation, as well as to the visa restrictions that have been implemented on Chinese tourists. Chinese officials did not respond to requests for comment on this report.
There was no immediate response on the possibility of a visit to China from a U.S. diplomatic mission or a U.S. embassy representative to discuss the new travel restrictions. In the past, the U.S. has vocally criticized China for not taking necessary measures to curtail the activities of its hackers into its intellectual property. The U.S. is currently involved in a dispute with China over trade issues and over its territorial aggression in the South China Sea. A person can only apply for a visa to China once he or she has a work permit or has a passport issued by the Chinese government.
If a person whose work permit or passport is not accepted allows him or herself to travel to China without a work permit or with an invalid passport, he will be subjected to a 10-day jail sentence. He will also be obliged to leave the country and cannot return for three years. There are also reports that the Chinese government is considering making it compulsory for people who do not have a Chinese translation license to travel abroad to obtain one before travelling. If this comes into effect, Chinese citizens who require travel advice from any Westerner will find it difficult to get it.
On 9 January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the new Chinese immigration law on foreigners intending to work in China will be effective Jan 1st but would still give employers some time to prepare. According to the ministry, the new regulations will be enforced by the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of State Security. The Ministry added that there will be no exit or entry ban. The document also did not specify how long employees need to be inside China before they can apply for a new work visa. There is no mention of the number of days a foreigner has to be inside the country before he or she can apply for an exit or entry permit.
The lack of clear information is worrying as the lack of information in previous times has often led to misunderstandings between authorities and foreign travellers. For instance, the US State Department’s webpage on travelling to China for the first time in nearly half a century does not specify whether one must be a dual citizen or whether there are any exit or entry restrictions. In addition, there was no explanation as to what would qualify you for entry or exit visas, or indeed whether you could even obtain one at all. There was no mention of whether there would be any restrictions on entering Canada. Many US citizens who travelled to China during the 1950s and early 1960s without a visa were detained for five years without any charges. There were no details as to what happened to those people when they returned to the US.