China admitted today for the first time that it is tightening its visa rules ahead of the Olympic Games.
"We have made some arrangements according to usual international practice. That is, in the approval process we are more strict and more serious with the procedure," a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Travel agents in Hong Kong, a major gateway to mainland China, reported last month that the government visa office told them previously easily obtained multiple-entry business visas would not be available until mid-October.
More rules including additional documentation for business visas and hotel bookings and plane tickets for tourist visas have also been reported.
Adding to the confusion is China’s continued insistence that no changes had been made to its visa policy.
Both the American and European chambers of commerce in Hong Kong sent letters to the Chinese government last month, citing several cases of visa denials and raising concerns over the impact on businesses.