Young women in three counties in Yunnan will be able to apply for passports like other mainlanders from today after the lifting of restrictions imposed seven years ago due to concerns that many were becoming prostitutes in nearby countries.
A 24-year-old microblogger in Menglian county wrote last week that the county's exit and entry administration had rejected her application for a passport last month because she was too young.
She told the Yunnan Daily that administration staff had told her that too many local women had been working as prostitutes abroad.
The newspaper said the city of Puer had asked central authorities to suspend the issuing of passports to women and girls aged between 16 and 35 in three counties bordering Myanmar - Menglian, Lancang and Ximeng.
Yang Zhonghua, director of Puer's exit and entry administration, said yesterday that the ban would be lifted from today and residents of the city would be allowed to apply for passports normally.
Young women in the three counties have only been allowed to apply for a passport if they could provide compelling reasons for going abroad, including an invitation from someone living overseas and a certificate from the Chinese embassy in their proposed destination.
'There were a few successful applications. But the procedure was complicated and most women could not apply for passports,' Yang said.
He said the ban had been implemented because many women had gone to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, some of whom engaged in prostitution, making it difficult for local men to find wives.
'There have been a couple of cases where some women came back from these countries with Aids,' Yang said. 'But the situation has been contained.'