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China Temporarily Halts Business Visas

07/24/2008
The Chinese government has stopped issuing the invitation letters necessary for businesspeople to obtain visas to visit the country, and will continue the restrictions through mid-September, according to multiple news sources. Reuters reports that the Shanghai Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Commission will postpone permission for all but essential travel, ruling out visits for market research, training, or inspections. A statement on the commission's website says that the ban is intended to "ensure the smooth hosting of the Olympics and safeguard the city's social stability during the Olympics." The Associated Press and the South China Morning Post report similar actions in Beijing, Qingdao, Shenyang, and Qinhuangdao - all cities that will host Olympic events. Reuters quotes an e-mailed statement by Brenda Foster, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, as saying, "While we understand that circumstances that have necessitated this decision, we do not necessarily agree with the measures that have been taken which affect the U.S. business community. We are undertaking an immediate survey of our members to ask them directly what this means for their China operations as well as future U.S. investment in China." The EU Chamber of Commerce in China, in a statement, says, "The introduction of such restrictions without warning creates serious problems for companies operating in China."

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