Beijing denies imposing visa ban

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2008, 12:00am

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu yesterday denied reports that Beijing had stopped granting multiple-entry visas ahead of the Olympic Games.

'The Chinese government has not stopped issuing multiple-entry visas to foreign visitors,' she said.

But travel agents in Hong Kong said a mainland ban on multiple-entry visas for foreign passport holders had not been lifted as of yesterday afternoon.

Travellers were restricted to single- or double-entry visas valid for up to three months, although multiple-entry visas that had not expired were still valid. Travel agents said they had been told the ban would last until mid-October.

A spokeswoman for the Commissioner's Office of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said on Monday the changes were due to 'computer system upgrades'. She refused to say when the previous practice would be resumed. A China Travel Service manager said it was still impossible to arrange multiple-entry visas for foreigners as of yesterday afternoon.

Juergen Weckherlin, a Hong Kong resident who holds a European Union passport, has started a blog to campaign against the visa restrictions.

'During the months of May to July, we have the peak season for garment production, mainly in Dongguan,' he said. 'For this period, under the new regulations, I would need to apply for 10 to 12 visas with double-entry - this means unbearable hardship and extra costs which will add up to more than HK$12,000.'