This is from today's SCMP:
Mainland authorities have once again tightened visa procedures for foreigners in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, travel industry sources said yesterday.
The latest curbs have raised concerns that the central government is reintroducing the draconian visa policy enforced before and during the Beijing Olympics last year.
Under the policy introduced two weeks ago, all new business visas issued recently will expire on September 15, three mainland visa agents confirmed.
Applications for the business visas, also called F visas, beyond September 15 would be put on hold, pending further government clarification, the agents said. "We don't know what is going to happen after September 15. More policies will probably be introduced as National Day approaches. We'll have to wait and see," Marcy Shen Lijun, a visa consultant based in Shanghai, said.
Existing F visas that expired after September 15 would not be affected as they were issued before the introduction of the new policy, agents said. Visa procedures for tourists and students had not been affected yet, they said.
However, information remained sketchy. Foreign applicants have had different experiences in obtaining new visas, with some saying that they had already had problems in applying before September 15.
At least one international conference to be held in Beijing next month had been forced to postpone to November as a result, said Shanghai-based American writer Adam Minter, who registered for the event. He said that he had been told by the organisers the conference could not go ahead as many foreign participants were unable to secure visas.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said she was not aware of the new restrictions, but many expatriates on the mainland said they had found it more difficult to secure new visas.
The tightening of the procedures echoes similar arrangements mainland authorities put in place during the Olympics.
A ceremony is to be staged in Beijing on October 1 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding. All state leaders will be attending the celebration, which will also feature a military parade. Beijing will be taking no chances on anything ruining the celebration. It earlier announced that security measures for the anniversary would be similar to those operating during the Olympics.
Ms Shen and two other Beijing-based visa agents said the new policies were introduced to control the influx of foreigners, and the authorities believed this could improve stability and security.
One visa agent in Beijing said: "It's just like the Olympic Games. The government wants to control the number of [foreign] people in China. The smaller the size, the easier it is to control."
Last year, Beijing imposed a series of entry restrictions in the run-up to the Olympics in August, dealing serious blows to the capital's tourism industry and some in the business sector. Most of the regulations were lifted after the Games, while some have remained in place. The visa agents said it had been much easier to obtain visas after the Games.
The American Chamber of Commerce and European Union Chamber of Commerce said they had yet to receive any complaints about visa problems from their members.