China delays approval of working visas

Firms made to wait as Beijing retaliates amid Senkakus flare-up

Sunday, Sep. 23, 2012

BEIJING — Japanese companies are experiencing delays in obtaining working visas for their employees from Chinese authorities due to the Senkaku Islands row, domestic business sources said.

The delays have triggered concerns among corporations about possible staff shortages at their facilities and installations in China, the sources said.

Beijing vowed to retaliate against Japan after the government announced earlier this month that it had bought and nationalized three of the Senkaku islets, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, in the East China Sea.

According to the business sources, it typically takes four to five business days for China’s immigration authorities to issue Japanese companies working visas for their employees, but a number of firms are still waiting for them after eight workdays.

Businesses say they have no idea when Chinese authorities will return to the normal processing speed. “We have been told they won’t issue visas at present,” a Japanese business source said.

Beijing has accused Tokyo of ratcheting up the territorial dispute over the Japan-controlled Senkakus, which it calls Diaoyu, and warned that it will affect bilateral economic relations. China is Japan’s largest trading partner.

China’s customs authorities have already tightened clearance procedures for goods imported from Japan, including key components for electronics and other labor-intensive products used by Japanese companies to assemble products at Chinese plants.

Chinese customs took a similar measure in 2010 when ties soured over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain who rammed two Japan Coast Guard cutters.

Meanwhile, tour agencies in China have cancelled sightseeing tours to Japan and the public has vowed to boycott Japanese goods in retaliation.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has said Beijing will not yield “half a step” in the sovereignty dispute while Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be appointed leader of the Communist Party this fall, has dismissed Japan’s purchase of three islets from a Saitama Prefecture businessman as “a farce.”

Categories: Security, Societal

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