China’s grim coronavirus lockdown expanded Thursday with a warning from the National Immigration Administration (NIA) that movement across China’s borders will be more tightly restricted.
Chinese social media is buzzing with citizens who say their passports were seized without justification by border police.
China’s state-run Global Times confirmed the escalating travel bans would block both outsiders entering China and Chinese citizens attempting to travel abroad:
To consolidate China’s epidemic prevention achievements, the immigration administration put Beijing as the priority and said the capital’s anti-epidemic policies would be strictly applied. The administration also required border inspection departments to fully support Shanghai to reach zero-COVID status at the community level, as well as supporting epidemic prevention achievements in Northeast China’s Jilin Province.
The immigration administration emphasized the need to stop COVID-19 entering China through the gathering of stranded people at border points or in illegal border crossings, while keeping ports unimpeded for necessary entry and exit to support economic development.
The regime sought to portray its tighter restrictions as a clampdown on “non-essential travel,” both overseas and within China.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) noted the responses on China’s tightly-controlled social media platform were “terse and sarcastic, yet with a hint of panic”:
“Sure enough, disease control and prevention is a panacea,” @Fangtou commented from Shanghai, while @HeyLucas123 added from Beijing: “They’re afraid everyone will seek a happier life overseas.”
User @Cucumber mixed with coriander 39466 added from Shanghai: “The front door is welded shut, don’t even think about trying to run, just stay in China and have fun.”
And @Libra zodiac sign added: “I feel more and more lately that the pandemic is just an excuse We can’t run away now! First they lock down the city, then the country. We’re the last generation, and we get to watch everyone die!”
China on Thursday announced it would place strict curbs on “non-essential” travel overseas by its nationals, amid a surge in immigration inquiries after weeks of grueling mass testing, lockdowns and forcible mass transportation to quarantine camps.https://t.co/GP8KyfOSYt
— Radio Free Asia (@RadioFreeAsia) May 13, 2022
The Chinese government on Friday unconvincingly denied a tidal wave of reports on social media that border officials are confiscating passports from travelers, a few of which were quoted by Macau Business:
A Chinese citizen who recently came back from Bangkok by air reported on social media that he saw that some passengers on the same plane got their passports snipped by a border inspector at the Guangzhou port, after being asked whether they would go abroad again.
Meanwhile, some Chinese mainland netizens declared on social media that they were refused to leave the country with their Chinese passports being cut by border officers as well, even if they hold all the required supporting documents for the exit, and a permanent resident ID card from other foreign countries.
Another Chinese resident who holds a student visa to Canada, also reported on social media that when he tried to leave China he was questioned by the border inspectors about what he is planning to do in Canada, and if the Canadian school he registered for will conduct any offline courses. After answering that he was going to take the language class first, with no offline class at the moment, the border officer cut his passport immediately and said there is no need to go overseas if no offline classes are required.
The Beijing Border Immigration Inspection Station indignantly defended its right to confiscate passports, while the NIA contemplated the rising tide of public anger and panic for a few days, then decided to denounce the reports of passport seizures as “disinformation” intended to “undermine China’s [Chinese coronavirus] prevention measures and regulations.”
RFA pointed out it is a matter of documented fact that police departments in several cities were given orders to seize passports from local residents, with a pledge to give them back “when the pandemic is over.”
Chinese officials are also imposing restrictions on moving capital out of the country, giving the strong impression of a dungeon state slamming its doors shut to keep people of means from fleeing its coronavirus torments. Waves of panic buying have been reported in Beijing and other cities as fear of Shanghai-style lockdowns spreads.
The Chinese government infamously worked to undermine travel bans in the early days of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, ensuring the disease would spread quickly around the world. Once the worldwide pandemic was underway, the regime in Beijing spun on a dime and began imposing strict travel bans to protect itself from alleged foreign infections.