BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — China eased coronavirus restrictions on the entry of South Korean students and workers Wednesday, sources said, in an apparent move to strengthen its ties with Seoul amid growing geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Beijing started to receive visa applications from students, workers and those with valid residence permits, in the first such relaxation of the restrictions against foreigners that it placed in March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
China has been seen as seeking stronger ties with South Korea, a key ally of the United States, as it handles increasingly acrimonious competition with Washington on multiple fronts, including trade, technology and maritime security.
Visa applicants should submit a certificate confirming a negative result from a nucleic acid test for the COVID-19 contagion five days before boarding a plane.
Upon their arrival in China, they could face a 14-day quarantine depending on provincial governments’ policy guidelines.
“I understand that China had also been active in the efforts to ease entry restrictions for South Koreans,” a source in Beijing said on condition of anonymity.
“The quarantine period in China could also be shortened depending on consultations with Chinese authorities going forward.”
Since the outbreaks of the novel virus earlier this year, Seoul and Beijing have been closely cooperating in terms of securing masks and other quarantine supplies, and stabilizing business exchanges in a reflection of their improving relations.
In late April, China allowed expedited entries for South Korean businesspeople under a “fast-track” program, following bilateral consultations with Seoul aimed at minimizing the economic ramifications from coronavirus entry curbs.
The two countries have been seeking to arrange a visit to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping within this year despite doubts that his trip could be delayed beyond this year should the countries fail to fully stabilize the COVID-19 crisis.