( dpa ) - China's new visa stipulations ahead of the Olympic Games in August are hampering economic cooperation between China and the European Union, EU business leaders active in China said Friday.
The remarks by the European Chamber of Commerce in China came as EU trade officials, led by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, prepared to meet with their Chinese counterparts later Friday.
The chamber expressed its hope "that normal visa service is resumed as soon as possible," after the Chinese government had made it more difficult to both renew as well as obtain new business visas.
"According to feedback from the member companies in the European Chamber, these recent developments impeded business between the EU and China," the group said in a statement.
Suspending the issuance of express visas means "missed business opportunities," chamber president Joerg Wuttke said.
"Beyond slowing down the process of travelling, these new practices make the possibility of travelling to China for business uncertain and increase travel costs by limiting the number of entries per visa," Wuttke said.
The new rules impose "substantial extra costs in terms of both time and money on EU-China business cooperation," he said
Especially problematic is the requirement that Europeans living in Asia return to their homeland to apply for visa renewal. This adds considerably to the costs of business.
"This benefits no one," Wuttke said.
The chamber was asking the foreign ministry in Beijing for a response, noting the healthy growth in trade and business cooperation between the EU and China under the eased visa provisions.