[EDITORIALS]Visa snub was wrong

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[EDITORIALS]Visa snub was wrong

The People's Republic of China has rejected visa applications for four Korean lawmakers who planned to carry out investigations in China before revising the Act on the Immigration and Legal Status of Korean Nationals Residing Abroad.

Although issuing a visa is a matter of sovereignty, it is unprecedented that a country, despite normal diplomatic relations, would reject the visa applications of representatives of the legislature of another country en masse in peacetime. Such a move clearly shows China's lack of diplomatic courtesy.

The lawmakers applied for visas to enter China in order to inspect conditions there before revising the law governing ethnic Koreans living overseas. The lawmakers had met with China's ambassador to Korea and exchanged opinions on the matter.

At the end of last year, the Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional a provision that prevented overseas Koreans who left for China and the former Soviet Union before 1948 and their descendants from receiving legal benefits in Korea.

The law must be revised within 18 months, and there is a serious debate under way on the matter that touches on interests here and in other countries. Because the revision is such a delicate matter, the lawmakers launched fact-finding surveys.

Although the Chinese government has not yet explained its step, the move seems to be an expression of dissatisfaction with current thinking about how to revise the law. If that is so, China's decision will harm ongoing efforts to maintain a healthy and fruitful dialogue between China and Korea and increase mutual understanding.

But we also urge the legislators to consider whether their surveys can be seen as infringing on other countries' sovereignty.

Korea and China have a lot to gain from steps to increase dialogue and promote a partnership for the future.

Instead of rejecting the fact-finding survey, Beijing should allow them to enter China. It is also important that the two countries use their best efforts to find an appropriate resolution to the problem.
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