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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
China checks for Muslim travellers
Shanghai Airlines plane
Chinese authorities want to avoid security gaffes
China has imposed tighter security checks on people from Middle Eastern and Muslim countries who want to purchase airline tickets, in the wake of the suicide plane hijackings in the US.

The Civil Aviation Administraton of China (CAAC) issued an official notice shortly after the 11 September attacks limiting the number of tickets on sale to listed countries, according to officials at Air China.

Officials told Reuters news agency that the CAAC had instructed airlines to issue tickets to citizens from such countries only after approval from the local Chinese embassy.

Travel agents in China say that passengers from listed countries wanting to travel to the US or Europe must now produce an entry visa for their destination before they can obtain a ticket.

The restrictions are reported to have been imposed at the request of the US and European authorities.

Bush visit

Chinese policeman in front of a skyscraper in Shanghai
Bush is due to visit China next weekend
One airline, China Southern, is reported to have gone as far as banning all Muslim passengers wishing to travel to the US or Europe.

According to the South China Morning Post, the airline is demanding "strict controls" on Middle Eastern passengers.

Airport police in Beijing and Guangzhou, however, denied the reports,

"As long as there are no problems with the papers passengers are carrying, we do not impose any restrictions and allow people to leave the country," said a police officer in Guangzhou airport.

The countries listed are reported to include Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait, Sudan, Libya and Algeria.

Chinese officials said last month that visa restrictions were being imposed on tourists and business passengers ahead of next weekend's visit by US President George Bush.

Mr Bush is due to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Shanghai. A proposed visit to Beijing was cancelled following the 11 September attacks.

See also:

02 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
China presses on with tallest tower
21 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Attack heralds China-US thaw
12 Oct 01 | Americas
US widens freeze on suspects' funds
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