China forbids citizens from going overseas for 'non-essential' reasons

The administration justified the measures by claiming it was necessary to "reduce the risk of infection when leaving the country, and of carrying the virus when entering the country". Travel will only be permitted for "essential" purposes, defined by the administration as resuming work, study, business and scientific research, as well as seeking medical care, CNN reported.

Authorities in China have imposed a de facto international travel ban, forbidding citizens from going overseas for "non-essential" reasons, as the government ramps up efforts to enforce its zero-Covid policy, the media reported.

The Chinese National Immigration Administration said it would tighten its reviewing process on issuing travel documents such as passports, and strictly limit those looking to leave.

The administration justified the measures by claiming it was necessary to "reduce the risk of infection when leaving the country, and of carrying the virus when entering the country". Travel will only be permitted for "essential" purposes, defined by the administration as resuming work, study, business and scientific research, as well as seeking medical care, CNN reported.

Those who need to go abroad to help with fighting the pandemic, or transporting disaster relief resources will have their applications expedited, according to the announcement.

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Officials did not reveal how they might enforce the new restrictions, or prevent would-be travellers in possession of valid travel documents from leaving.

"Don't go out unless necessary, don't leave the country unless necessary, don't be born unless necessary," read one popular comment in reaction to the news on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo.

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Others speculated officials might be cracking down on travel because more people are looking to escape as fears rise over new government-enforced lockdowns -- especially in the capital Beijing, where Covid cases are rising, CNN reported.