Chinese nationals living in mainland China have told RFA in recent months that the authorities have gradually stopped issuing new passports and exit visas -- a police-approved travel permit that adds another layer to a slew of hurdles Chinese nationals must clear in order to be allowed to leave.
The Chinese Entry and Exit Bureau recently confirmed publicly that the rules are in place, saying exit permits will only be issued for "essential" travel. "We will be implementing a strict approvals systems with no permits for non-emergency or non-essential trips out of China, to ensure public safety during the pandemic," spokesman Chen Jie told a news conference on July 30.
Some Chinese nationals living in the United States have been stranded in China after they combined a trip home with plans to renew their soon-to-expire passports at the same time, U.S.-based businessman Zhang Shengqi told RFA. "My friend ... found he couldn't get [a passport] after he got back, and his wife [in the U.S.] just gave birth to a child," Zhang said, suggesting that even returning to one's place of work and family wasn't being regarded as "essential."