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China Tightens Restrictions on Its Citizens Leaving and Returning to the Country

Recently, many Chinese netizens left messages saying that when they intended to leave China, they were rejected by border inspectors, some of their passports were cut off, and even someone’s green card was cut off, too. An agent for studying abroad said that the government had suspended citizens from going abroad to study in primary and secondary schools and stopped issuing passports for primary and secondary school students to go abroad.

In response to these, China’s National Immigration Administration (CNIA) said on May 13 that the “suspension of passports and prohibiting exiting the country by cutting one’s passport or green cards are all fake news.” These are for “distorting and smearing our entry and exit management policies, intending to interfere with the legal, accurate and effective entry and exit management under the condition of normalized COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control measures.”

On May 10, the CNIA stated, “We should strictly implement strict and tight entry and exit policies, strictly restrict the non-essential exit activities of Chinese citizens, and strictly approve and issue entry and exit documents.”

Earlier on April 27, the CNIA spokesman said that it would “strictly examine and issue documents and visas, and Chinese citizens should not leave the country for non-essential and non-emergency purposes.” In addition, it will clearly continue to implement strict and tight entry and exit policies.

According to the official explanation, “non-essential” reasons include tourism and visiting relatives. The “necessary” reasons include studying abroad, being employed, doing business, or traveling for medical treatment, participating in epidemic prevention and control, or transporting of disaster relief supplies.

Chinese authorities’ restrictions on outbound travel can be dated back to November 2020, when the CNIA said it would strictly approve applications for entry and exit documents for Chinese citizens for non-essential reasons.

The strict control of entry and exit is an important part of the “Zero-COVID” policy. China’s recent stricter immigration policy was designed “to prevent foreign import of COVID” and China will not change it in the near future.


  1. BBC News 中文, May 17, 2022.
  2. Aboluowang, May 10, 2022.