Beijing again excludes S. Korea from group tour destination

SEOUL,-- China on Friday shunned South Korea in its second batch of countries 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, but not South Korea, to its list of officially permitted destinations for group tour packages for Chinese people, starting Wednesday.

China gave South Korea the cold shoulder in its initial batch of 20 such countries released on Jan. 20. The United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Russia and Indonesia were among 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 the visa issuance, but the communist state 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.

The latter two, like Seoul, vetoed China's destabilizing activities in the Taiwan Strait and were excluded from the Chinese group tour announcement.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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