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(LEAD) FM asks China to refrain from 'excessive' controls on visiting S. Koreans

All News 01:35 February 27, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, background in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed concern to her Chinese counterpart on Wednesday over the country's "excessive" restrictions against visiting South Koreans amid the spread of the coronavirus, the foreign ministry said.

Kang and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke by phone late Wednesday to discuss the two countries' cooperation in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak and China's "excessive" controls on South Korean visitors, the ministry said in a press release.

This photo, provided by South Korea's foreign ministry, shows Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) and her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, at a bilateral meeting in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

Kang, who is on a visit to London, explained the South Korean government's "transparent and preemptive measures" to contain the spread of the virus.

She also "expressed concern that many regions in China are implementing excessive controls, including quarantines, on visiting South Koreans," the press release said.

Kang "asked that the Chinese central government take extra care to ensure that excessive measures are not taken, in consideration of the facts," it said.

Wang again thanked South Korea for supporting China in the response to the coronavirus, "assessed" the South Korean government's quarantine efforts and strong determination to fight the spread of the disease, and pledged the Chinese government's efforts to continue to improve the two countries' friendly relations by mitigating the virus' impact on people-to-people exchanges and economic ties.

"The two ministers agreed to work together to further develop the bilateral relationship, based on what the two countries have achieved in their close communication and cooperation in responding to COVID-19," the press release said.

The coronavirus has infected more than 81,000 people worldwide, mostly in China. As of Wednesday, there were a total of 1,261 confirmed cases in South Korea, with 12 deaths linked to the virus.

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