In a puzzling move, the Chinese have recently made the process for getting a visa much more cumbersome. Applicants will now have to submit a round-trip ticket, evidence of a hotel reservation and, oddest of all, an invitation. That invite can come from a tour company, an "authorized tourism unit" or an individual residing in China.
This shouldn't affect those planning to take group tours. But independent travelers, those hardy souls who were just hoping to wing their China adventure, well, they're going to be stymied.
One has to wonder why the Chinese are doing this, at a time when travel to China is booming and tourism dollars pouring into the country? Is the "Middle Kingdom" returning to the strict surveillance of visitors that was common under Mao? Or was this some sort of rogue move by a Chinese official? Its hard to tell.
For more information on the new rules, click over to this Bloomberg article.