Friday, May 29, 2009

One Step Forward...

...Two Steps Back

Well since it was too late to come for a last visit, you can always blame it on visa issue!

Conspiracy theory

Once again the season of visa renewal anxiety is upon us.

It would appear that the Chinese government is even more antsy this year than last about the possibility of us troublesome foreigners making some embarrassing public show of our namby-pamby liberal-democratic political stance. Last year, the Olympics was the main focus of concern; this year, it is any one of a number of "sensitive" anniversaries.

Yet, curiously enough, there doesn't seem to be a big push to drive the foreigners out of the country right away - prior to 6/4.. No, it would appear that the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC in the first week of October are the thing they're really worried about us spoiling. I heard recently that 'F' Visas (for "business travellers" - although that's what the majority of people are on, because it's so damned difficult to get any other kind), in addition to being difficult or impossible to get within the country (or even in Hong Kong, long the traditional 'last resort' of the visa-challenged, since the visa issuing regime there is usually much more lax than on the mainland [and technically it counts as "overseas"!!]; lately, many people, it seems, have been forced to go properly abroad, often back to their home countries, to obtain a new visa), are no longer being issued for periods extending beyond mid-September; and new visas thereafter are unlikely to be issued until at least mid-October. It seems likely that it will be very difficult to get tourist visas during that period either

No foreigners here (or as few as possible) around the great national celebration?? It's even worse than last year's Olympic crackdown.

Is it just because we might "shame" China in front of the international media by unfurling a "Free Tibet!" banner? Probably. It seems a bit of an excessive response, though.