Amid a raging trade war between the world’s two largest economies, China has turned its wrath on South Korea, which appears to have joined a US-led campaign to sanction Chinese companies including Huawei Technologies, the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker.
Multiple sources confirmed that China has strengthened the requirements for business visas issued to Koreans starting from June 1.
Applicants must submit their name cards and detailed handwritten itinerary, according to Chinese authorities. In order to obtain a 90-day business visa, for instance, an applicant is required to submit at least 31 days of detailed schedule in China.
“The Chinese government told us they decided to strengthen the visa process due to frequent discovery of forged documents,” said an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese government added that the measures are only about reinforcing document screening, and that the changes are applicable not only to Koreans, but other nationalities as well.
Huawei’s booth at the MWC trade show held in March in Barcelona.
Korean telcos distance themselves from troubled Huawei
The move to strengthen the visa rules comes just days after local media reported that Korean companies decided to choose other network equipment companies over Huawei.
According to reports, KT, the second-largest mobile carrier, has picked US network equipment manufacturer Infinera for network equipment installation from Jun. In the new project, it plans to upgrade the existing facilities while establishing a new nationwide network for 5G services and 10-gigabit-per-second internet connections.
No. 3 mobile carrier LG Uplus has also chosen a different optical network equipment firm over its long-time partner Huawei to install a nationwide network backbone.
The Korean community in China is also suffering from tightened regulations on residency.
“To extend my residence permit, I always used an agency, but now I have to visit the office in person,” a Korean businessman living Shanghai told The Investor on the condition of anonymity.
Earlier this month, Washington decided to place Huawei on the Entity List. Companies on the list have a tough time because other firms are discouraged to do business with them. US has asked its allies to join the anti-Huawei campaign.
In a tit-for-tat, China issued a travel advisory for the US, citing “frequent gun violence, robberies, and theft,” according to Xinhua News Agency on June 4. Beijing also warned students of the “risks” of going to the US to study.
China, with almost 150 million tourists traveling overseas in 2018, has apparently turned to tourism as its weapon of choice, industry watchers said.
Following the arrest of a top Huawei executive in Vancouver at the request of the US in December last year, China’s Tourism Ministry had issued a warning against tours to Canada, citing safety concerns.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)