The communist regime in Beijing has denied that Chinese border police are invalidating citizens’ passports and resident cards issued by foreign governments to prevent people from leaving the country, after an increasing number of videos of such actions were seen circulating on Chinese social media.
China’s National Immigration Administration recently issued a statement to tighten control of Chinese citizens’ “nonessential” travel abroad in the name of pandemic control.
In the statement issued on May 12, the regime said that Xu Ganlu, vice minister of public security and director of the National Immigration Administration, had required the restriction of issuance and approvals of passports and exit documents to Chinese citizens to strictly limit their “unnecessary” trips leaving the country for COVID-19 pandemic control in a meeting two days earlier.
The immigration control measures immediately caused a stir on the internet, with some netizens remarking: “The seclusion of the country has really begun!”
On May 13, in response to the viral videos, the immigration administration denied that it was “suspending passports” and invalidating residency cards by “cutting off corners of green cards.” The administration again emphasized the need to minimize unnecessary cross-border activities.
Customs offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou also issued statements denying that officers have cut Chinese citizens’ travel documents.
The policy is a blow to the recently popular “run movement,” in which more Chinese are emigrating to Western countries. Such sentiment has left many Chinese questioning the regime’s official statements.
“I don’t understand why it’s necessary to restrict people from leaving the country because of the pandemic?” a netizen identified as “Spring Willow Branch” said on social media. “[If it’s for pandemic control], what should be restricted is entry rather than exit from the country.”
Another netizen shared a screenshot on social media showing a security notice erected in Shanghai Pudong airport that reads, “Anyone who has hatred for the country and the Party [Chinese Communist Party] will not be allowed to leave the country.”
Another notice reads, “Anyone who has a malicious motive to leave the country, their documents and ID will be destroyed on the spot.”
“Pudong Airport is full of stranded people, homeless, unable to take their flights, and unable to return,” a netizen posted about the situation at the airport.
In a social media thread titled, “Discussion on Going to the United States,” one post showed a mother with a U.S. green card (permanent resident card) accompanying her child who has U.S. citizenship trying to leave Guangzhou airport for the United States. Her green card was forcibly cut by customs staff leaving her unable to leave the country. Many more people experienced the same treatment.
In addition to restricting Chinese from going abroad, the regime has also tightened the control of investment emigration from China to foreign countries. A screenshot of an official document has been circulating on social media since May 1, in which the regime ordered its notary offices to suspend notarization for foreign investments.
“The Chinese regime has no legal basis to restrict citizens going abroad in the name of pandemic prevention,” Lai Jianping, a Chinese lawyer currently living in Canada, told The Epoch Times. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the pandemic, but shows the regime is disconnecting from the world.”
That behavior by the regime has continued for years, although it has now moved from targeting mainly dissidents to more of the general public, Dong Guangping, a rights activist and former policeman in mainland China, told The Epoch Times on May 12.
“Many places have issued notices to strictly control people going abroad,” he said. “There is also a nationwide requirement for people to hand over passports, and to suspend elementary and middle school students applying for passports. The CCP has banned people from going abroad under various excuses such as pandemic prevention.”
Lai says there are three main purposes behind the regime’s new restrictions:
“First, to strengthen the physical control of Chinese citizens and prevent them from fleeing mainland China. Second, it wants to reduce Chinese people’s contact with the outside world and the West in order to better brainwash them. Third, its economy is declining now, and it is only getting worse. The regime wants to tighten its foreign exchange control to keep the extremely limited foreign exchange within the country.”
He said the CCP directly damaging the passports of Chinese citizens, U.S. green cards, or Canada’s Maple Leaf cards for permanent residents, violates the Chinese constitution.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown began in Shanghai, sparking a humanitarian crisis, the number of online searches for overseas emigration has increased dozens of times. Lai said this shows that many Chinese have lost trust in the government and are now voting with their feet.
Li Yun contributed to the report.
Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.