TOKYO: The Chinese embassy in Tokyo announced on Sunday that it would resume issuing visas to Japanese citizens.

The move ends a retaliatory step against Japan’s decision to require Covid testing for travellers arriving from mainland China, where the number of infections was surging. “Starting today, the Embassy and the Offices of Consulates-General of the People’s Republic of China will resume issuing ordinary visas for Japanese citizens,” a short online notice issued by the embassy said without elaborating.

China stopped issuing visas to Japanese nationals from January 10 after Tokyo started requiring people arriving from the mainland to test before travel and upon landing. China also suspended issuing visas to South Koreans for similar reasons earlier this month. The Chinese embassy in South Korea had not lifted the suspension as of Sunday evening.

Japan is still requiring those travelling on direct flights from the mainland to show proof of negative test results from samples taken no more than 72 hours before leaving China. They are also still subject to testing upon arriving in Japan. In early January, Beijing called Tokyo’s move “discriminatory”, though Japan argued it was necessary given the spread of infections in China.

China has approved two domestically developed oral medicines for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms, the National Medical Products Administration said on Sunday.

The drugs, used for treating adult patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 infections, have been developed by Simcere Pharmaceutical Group 2096. HK and a unit of Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co Ltd, the administration said in a statement on its website.

China abandoned its stringent “zero Covid” policy in early December after protests against it, allowing people to travel and the virus to spread rapidly throughout the country, boosting demand for Covid treatments.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2023

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