Beijing Olympics: Scared of protestors, Chinese government tightens visa rules

Scared that the Summer Olympics in Beijing will be disrupted by protestors, the Chinese government is finally admitting that it is implementing tougher visa rules, making it more difficult to obtain one for those heading to the Games in August.

According to the Associated Press, Chinese authorities say that an invitation letter, proof of accommodation and round-trip air tickets are required for some travelers applying for a visa.

I didn’t mistype: Authorities are only saying some travelers will be affected, and are being maddeningly vague as to the specifics of the new visa rules. All a foreign ministry flack would tell the AP is, “We have made some arrangements according to the practice of the past Olympics and usual international practice. That is, in the approval process we are more strict and more serious with the procedure,”

Also, the Chinese have suspended multiple entry visas for business travelers through October, which is disrupting the business community in Hong Kong that is used to obtaining such visas easily.

The Chinese government is urging travelers to apply for visas in their home countries rather than the more common practice of applying for one in Hong Kong.

All this is in response to fears that the Games will be disrupted by human rights activists upset about China’s crackdown in Tibet this spring. The Olympic torch’s journey to Beijing has been marred by protests, and some groups are pledging to take more action at the Games themselves.

Still, it’s only now that Chinese authorities are admitting that there will be tougher visa rules. During weeks of media speculation, the Chinese have been denying anything is different.