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China Tightens Passport Approvals Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases China Tightens Passport Approvals Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

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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…

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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)

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Journalist and science writer for NewsAfrica24, the Atlantic, New Scientist, Aeon, Men’s Health, and many others. Author of The Intelligence Mafias, published by Stoughton (UK)/WW Norton (USA) and translated into six languages.

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How AC Milan missed out on Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan

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Afena Gyan scores brace for AS Roma against Genoa

Afena-Gyan makes Serie A record

Afena-Gyan valued at €20m

Ghanaian youngster Felix Afena-Gyan may be excelling for AS Roma but he could have ended up at rivals AC Milan.

The youngster has risen from the youth side of the Italian giants and taking a spot on the first team where he is in the process of establishing himself as a key cog in Jose Mourinho’s side.

His two goals in AS Roma’s victory over Genoa made him the first player born in 2003 to score in the Italian top flight league.

It has however emerged that Afena-Gyan was once on the books AC Milan and could have had his development in Milan instead of Rome.

Oliver Arthur, the Ghanaian football agent credited with the discovery of the 18-year-old has revealed that Afena-Gyan had trials with AC Milan who were interested in signing him.

Oliver Arthur says the choice of AS Roma as the club for Afena-Gyan was informed by his quest to get a place where the youngster’s development was not going to be impeded.

“He initially had trials at AS Roma, then Sassuolo before going to AC Milan. Milan, just like the other clubs, was very much interested in him. But, we needed to make a decision and look at the best for the player and we settled on AS Roma,” he said Kumasi-based Pure FM.

Oliver Arthur also spoken about how the youngster’s stock has risen since he broke into the first team of AS Roma.

He disclosed that Afena-Gyan is now valued at €20million following his good display for AS Roma.

“It will really be difficult. Very difficult. Range? May be between €15m-€20m. For what he’s done and the abilities he possesses, I think, yes, €20m” he told Angel TV

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Africa to use VAR in World Cup play-offs after Ghana vs South Africa incident

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Ghana defeats South Africa 1-0

South Africa petitions FIFA over penalty in Ghana game

Senegalese referee to be punished by FIFA, says South Africa coach

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used in the final phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Gianni Infantino, the President of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has said.

Infantino has disclosed that FIFA and CAF will use the technology in the play-off to improve officiating in those matches.

Speaking at the extraordinary general assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, Egypt Infantino said FIFA is making efforts to enhance the quality of matches and introduction of VAR is one of the measures.

“The final stage of the African World Cup qualifiers will see an improvement in refereeing performance due to the use of VAR,” said Infantino.

The President of CAF, Patrice Motsepe who is a South African refused to comment on the specific case of Ghana versus South Africa but promised an investment in officiating.

“We are going to invest in the competitions because our competitions are everything,” said Motsepe.

“That’s why the announcement that we are making today regarding referees is critically important. Africa have got good referees, and we have got world-class referees. We’ve also got referees who are not so good.

“Then we’ve also got referees who are even further from not so good, but they all try. We want to train them, and also pay them good money and look after them. So that they can make a career out of being referees.”

Ghana defeated South Africa 1-0 at the Cape Coast Stadium on November 14, 2021 via a controversial penalty.

Defender Daniel Amartey earned Ghana the penalty which was converted by skipper Andre Ayew on the 33rd minute.

South Africa took issues with the decision by referee Ndiaye and petitioned FIFA to probe what they perceive to be match manipulation.

According to SAFA, the referee was compromised and thus ruled the game in favour of the host team.

The Ghana Football Association has meanwhile disputed the claims and emphasized the Black Stars deserved victory.

It is expected FIFA will issue a verdict on the game in the coming days.

The draw for the play-off will be held in January next year after the Africa Cup of Nations.

The ten countries that have qualified include Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

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Forget about replay FIFA, will only ban referee Ndiaye Maguette – Hugo Broos

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It appears that head coach of South Africa, Hugo Broos has given up hope of forcing a replay of the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana from FIFA.

The Black Stars defeated the Bafana Bafana of South Africa by a lone goal to secure the only slot in group G for the play offs of the 2022 World Cup.

South Africa after the game accused the match official of match fixing, match manipulation among others before lodging an official complaint with FIFA.

Ghana had a penalty after Daniel Amartey went to ground in the penalty box following a challenge from Rushine De Reuck although it appeared soft there was a nudge in the back of the Leicester City defender.

The Senegalese referee Ndiaye Maguette who was standing just a few meters outside the penalty box swiftly awarded the penalty without any second thought.

FIFA urged the two Associations that is Ghana and South Africa to present any comments or evidence it deems appropriate latest by 20th November 2021 as they referred the protest to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee who began their work on 23rd November,2021.

FIFA is now due to issue a verdict on that appeal which has created friction between Ghana and South Africa in football circles.

Ahead of the verdict, South Africa’s Belgian tactician doesn’t seem confident.

“Fifa met on Tuesday,” Broos told HLN Sportcast. “We expect a decision in the course of this week. It’s not just about the penalty kick, it’s about the whole game. The referee made 71 decisions, 47 of which were foul. The analysis has shown that. And 90 percent of those 47 wrong decisions were against us.”

“You have to be able to prove something like that in black and white. Was he bribed? Wasn’t he pressured? Or was he just having a really bad day? The numbers are there, but is that enough for FIFA? I personally think that it will remain with a suspension for the referee and that we should not count on a replay.” he said.

The draw for the play offs will come off in January while the matches will be played in March 2022.

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