Published On: Tue, Jan 13th, 2015


China has been quietly toughening travel restrictions on students and businessmen travel­ling from Ebola-hit West Africa, even as it increases support to fight the deadly disease in the re­gion, diplomats say.
Beijing-based ambassadors from Liberia and Sierra Leone, whose countries, along with Guinea, are the hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, say some of their nationals are staying away from China due to the new procedures.
“You have many Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans who come frequently to con­duct business,” Dudley Thomas McKinley, Liberia’s ambassador to China, said in an interview. “Of course this has impacted them in a negative way and has slowed it down.
“It has impacted the numbers of people travelling to China from those regions, whether for business or for study,” he added, saying he planned to raise the concern with China’s Foreign Ministry.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Af­fairs denied there was any change in visa policy for West African ap­plicants.
Most West Africans enter Chi­na through the southern province of Guangdong, which neighbours Hong Kong. The Guangzhou Daily said 438 000 Africans, mostly trad­ers, passed through the provincial capital from January to October last year.
Victor Bockarie Foh, Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China, said he himself faced stepped-up screening when he returned to Beijing after a recent trip to his home country.
“I came back and at the airport I was rigorously examined,” he said, adding he did not fault Chi­na for stepping up restrictions on travellers from his country.
“If you fly with a disease like this, it is like flying with a bomb,” he said. “They [China] have not closed their doors. They are only being careful.”


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