SEOUL – China on Friday dropped South Korea from the second batch of countries that allowed for Chinese group tourists, a move widely seen as a form of political complaint.
The Chinese culture ministry added 40 foreign countries, including France, Italy, Denmark, Portugal, and Iran to its list of officially permitted destinations for group tour packages for Chinese people, starting Wednesday.
South Korea was not included in the list.
This was the second time that South Korea was given the cold shoulder treatment by China when the latter issued an initial list of 20 countries on Jan. 20. The United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Russia and Indonesia were on the list.
Friday’s move is widely viewed as an expression of Beijing’s unresolved feud against Seoul’s previous anti-Covid-19 measures on entrants from China, Hong Kong and Macao during the virus’ surge in winter.
In early January, Seoul requested PCR tests within the first day of entry for these entrants, which Beijing called “discriminative” and suspended issuing short-term visas to South Korean nationals.
The two countries mutually eased the virus curbs and normalized visa issuance, but Beijing maintained its stance on the group tour agenda.
Some critics view the exclusion as a projection of China’s dismay at South Korea’s recent move to strengthen diplomatic and defense ties with the United States and Japan. (Yonhap)