China Tightens Passport Approvals Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases
China has tightened scrutiny over issuing and renewing passports to stop “non-urgent and unnecessary” cross-border travel in the wake of fresh COVID-19 outbreaks that have spread to several parts of the country.Chen Jie, spokesperson of the National Immigration Administration, said only individuals with needs for overseas travel to study, work, or business purposes will be…
China has tightened scrutiny over issuing and renewing passports to stop “non-urgent and unnecessary” cross-border travel in the wake of fresh COVID-19 outbreaks that have spread to several parts of the country.
Chen Jie, spokesperson of the National Immigration Administration, said only individuals with needs for overseas travel to study, work, or business purposes will be prioritized for new passports or renewals. He said the restrictions were in response to the global pandemic.
“It is strongly advised that applicants cancel or postpone their plans to go overseas if they don’t have urgent and necessary reasons to do so,” Chen said at the press conference Friday.
The immigration authority only issued 335,000 passports to Chinese mainland citizens in the first half of 2021, accounting for merely 2% of the total travel documents approved during the same period in 2019, according to official figures. Passports that were approved this year were mostly for students and people with work or businesses abroad.
Chinese students still account for a large proportion of those seeking travel abroad, though the pandemic has delayed their plans, according to a March report by the Center for China and Globalization and the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. However, China hasn’t allowed most international students enrolled in its universities to enter the country, though it has partially opened its borders for business travelers, albeit with strict quarantine requirements.
Zuo Weijun from the eastern Jiangxi province told Sixth Tone that his application was rejected in March and was told to resubmit it along with documents that proved he was going abroad for study or work. The 26-year-old said he had no intention for immediate international travel and wanted to have a travel document handy for the future.
Meanwhile, some people have found ways to circumvent the system.
A man surnamed Lu from the eastern Zhejiang province told Sixth Tone that his passport renewal application was initially denied, even though he had a Canadian permanent residency. He then applied for a community college in Canada and secured an admission letter, which cleared his path to get a new passport.
“It was an easy process,” Lu said. “Just find a major and a university, and you can get it done in less than a month.”
Difficulties in passport approvals have also led to some arguments with local officials in recent months.
In April, a man from the southwestern Sichuan province posted on social platform Douban about a dispute with authorities after they denied his passport renewal application. The man claimed to run a business overseas and needed to renew his travel document for logistical purposes, though he didn’t intend to leave the country.
Chen Xi, associate professor of health policy and economics at Yale University, told Sixth Tone on Tuesday that the country has adopted strict measures as part of its “zero tolerance” policy to curb COVID-19 from spreading within its borders. He said the tight control has prohibited many from entering China, including foreign students, as well as some Chinese skilled workers.
“Chinese visa applications and passport renewals overseas have thus been substantially impacted,” he said.
China is currently facing one of its largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in terms of geographical spread. The latest wave of infections that started in the eastern city of Nanjing has now spread to at least 31 cities in just over two weeks.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: People Visual)
Black Stars Head Coach CK Akonnor sacked
The Executive Council of the Ghana Football Association has taken a decision to terminate the appointment of Black Stars Coach Charles Akonnor and his two Assistants with immediate effect.
This follows the receipt of the Technical Report from the Head Coach of the Senior National Team and the report from the Black Stars Management Committee following Ghana’s Group G World Cup qualifying matches against Ethiopia and South Africa.
The Executive Council after considering the two reports have decided to terminate its relationship with the Head Coach C. K Akonnor and the two Assistants.
The Executive Council has formed a three (3) Member Committee made up of Vice President Mark Addo, Upper East Regional Football Association Chairman, Alhaji Salifu Zida and Dr. Randy Abbey to find a Head Coach and Assistant Coaches for the Black Stars within the next 72 hours.
The Association wishes C.K Akonnor and his Assistants the very best in their future endeavours.
Ghana currently have three (3) points after the two opening matches.
The Black Stars will take on Zimbabwe in the next round of games in October 2021.
Andy Murray: Emma Raducanu win provides ‘huge opportunity’ for British tennis
Kent teenager Emma Raducanu took New York by storm, not dropping a set en route to victory as she became the first qualifier in history to claim a grand slam crown; fellow Briton Andy Murray was asked about the 18-year-old after his Rennes Open first-round victory over Yannick Maden
Andy Murray has hailed Emma Raducanu’s “incredible” US Open win and spoken of a “huge opportunity” for British tennis.
Kent teenager Raducanu took New York by storm, not dropping a set en route to victory as she became the first qualifier in history to claim a grand slam crown.
Fellow Briton Murray was asked about the 18-year-old at a press conference on Monday after his Rennes Open first-round victory over Yannick Maden.
The three-time grand slam winner said: “It was incredible what she did there. I think for a lot of the people involved in British tennis, we knew she was extremely good.
“She hadn’t competed much for the last sort of 18 months or so with school and coronavirus and those sorts of things, but I think at Wimbledon (where Raducanu reached the fourth round) everyone sort of got a bit of a glimpse of how good she could be.
“I’ve spent a little bit of time around her on the practice court, but more so in the same building, training close to each other, and watching what she’s doing, and she’s obviously really, really good.
“But what she did in New York was very special, a huge boost for British tennis and gives hopefully the governing bodies an opportunity to capitalise on that and get more and more kids involved in the sport.
“It’s great what she did and a huge opportunity for British tennis now.”
Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid re-sign French forward on loan from Barcelona
Antoine Griezmann joined Barcelona from Atletico Madrid in £103m deal two years ago; forward returns to Atletico on a season-long loan; Sky Italy and Barcelona say Atletico have obligation to make deal permanent next summer, but Atletico say they instead have the option to extend the loan
Antoine Griezmann has completed his shock Deadline Day return to Atletico Madrid on loan from Barcelona.
Atletico and Barcelona said there was an option to extend the loan for a further season, with the Catalan club adding the Madrid side also had an obligation to make the deal permanent. Sky in Italy reports this permanent deal would cost £34.4m (€40m).
Atletico were able to move for the 30-year-old after sanctioning Saul Niguez’s departure to Chelsea on an initial loan with an option to buy worth £33.4m (€38.9m) overall.
Diego Simeone was keen to sign a new striker and Griezmann will have no difficulty settling back at Atletico, having worked under the Argentine between 2014 and 2019.
Barcelona stated that Atletico have agreed to pay Griezmann’s wages in full.
The 2018 World Cup-winner joined Barcelona from Atletico on a £103m deal two years ago and scored 35 goals in 102 appearances for the club.
However, he has only won the Copa del Rey during his time at the Nou Camp, and the Catalan giants have been trying to lighten their wage bill this summer due to debts amounting to £1.15billion, as confirmed by club president Joan Laporta earlier in August.
The club’s reported financial struggles meant they were unable to offer Lionel Messi a new contract, prompting his shock exit to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
On Tuesday, the club announced stalwarts Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have accepted to take a pay cut in order to aid the club’s Financial Fair Play parameters and ensure new signing Sergio Aguero could be formally registered with the Spanish Football League (LFP).
Earlier in the summer, Gerard Pique took a similar decision to allow Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia to be ratified as Barcelona players.
Griezmann originally left Atletico for Barcelona in 2019 at the end of a protracted transfer saga after his £103m (€120m) release clause was paid in full.
A year earlier, he featured in a documentary with Spanish TV station Movistar called “The Decision” which followed him as he opted to stay at Atletico despite interest from Barcelona.
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