The National Immigration Administration announced on Wednesday it will halt issuing port visas to South Korean and Japanese citizens and suspend the 72/144-hour visa-free transit policy for them, after China vowed it would respond reciprocally to discriminatory measures against the country.
A day earlier, China suspended issuing short-term visas to South Korean citizens and ordinary visas for Japanese citizens.
Foreign Minister Qin Gang said in Ethiopia that China has reasons to respond to the discriminatory policies against Chinese citizens taken by South Korea and Japan which have hindered people-to-people exchanges, Phoenix Television reported on Wednesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news conference on Wednesday that China's reciprocal measures are legitimate and reasonable and aim to protect the legitimate interests of Chinese citizens.
Some countries have disregarded science and their own epidemic situations by imposing discriminatory entry restrictions on travelers from China, Wang said while calling for those countries to introduce pandemic prevention policies that are scientific and proportionate.
China has made arrangements for people who need visas to come to China for diplomatic, official or urgent commercial purposes, Wang also said.
South Korea and Japan require travelers from China to take COVID-19 tests upon arrival. South Korea's embassy and consulates in China limited the issuance of short-term visas on Jan 2.
Chinese travelers said they were asked to carry a yellow card upon arrival in South Korea. An online video showed travelers from China being given a red lanyard when they arrived at an airport in Japan.
China's downgrading of its virus management from Class A to B took effect on Sunday. Restrictions on cross-border travel have also been eased.
Many countries responded to the readjustment positively, and said they will not impose entry restrictions on Chinese travelers.
Senior Thai government members and officials welcomed Chinese travelers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday. Indonesia and other countries have arranged for Chinese-speaking staff to assist travelers, Wang said.
China will continue to adapt its COVID-19 response to the evolving epidemic situation, and work with all parties to ensure safe, smooth and orderly cross-border travel, the spokesman added.