China denies blocking passports to control Covid-19

May 13, 2022: China’s immigration authority is still providing services for necessary trips outside the country, it said today, denying rumours that passport issuances were halted and that residency cards for living in foreign countries were being invalidated.

Officials have promptly processed certificates for people who need to travel abroad for necessary and urgent matters such as study, scientific research, trade and businesses and medical issues, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said in a statement.

The NIA was responding to what it said were “foreign media reports” that falsely said the agency had suspended passport issuances and had invalidated residency cards issued by foreign countries to Chinese citizens eligible to live overseas by cutting off the corners. The NIA statement did not include examples of the reports.

The statement followed the NIA’s announcement day yesterday that it would “strictly limit” unnecessary overseas travels by Chinese citizens to minimize the risks of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases caused by infections among international travellers.

“There remain great uncertainties in the development of the pandemic and a big risk of getting infected during trips overseas,” the NIA said in the statement today, which was published on social media.

“People in the country should continue not to travel abroad for unnecessary, non urgent purposes.”

Overseas travel from China has become more difficult with frequent flight cancellations and travel curbs in areas with domestic COVID outbreaks, as the country insists on stringent moves including citywide lockdowns to curb a wave of infections this year.

Trips in or out of the country made by mainland citizens in 2021 plunged nearly 80% compared with the level in 2019, NIA data showed.

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