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US Refuses to Review Fingerprinting Procedure

The United States said it would not accept China's request for a review in the procedure of fingerprinting its citizens applying for non-immigrant visas.  

US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli rejected China's claim that it was a discriminatory procedure, saying electronic fingerprinting was a global requirement for applicants of US visas.


"So the notion that somehow this is either targeted or an invasion of privacy I think is just not true," he told reporters.


China said Wednesday it had made representations to the United States through diplomatic channels to review the fingerprinting procedure at the US Embassy in Beijing beginning this week.


The procedure infringed human rights and had caused strong dissatisfaction among Chinese people, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.  


"The US should change this as soon as possible ... or the Chinese side will retain the right to adopt an equal measure," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.


Ereli explained that fingerprinting was a means for verifying identity and Washington had provisions for the protection of privacy in carrying out the process.


"It is an integral part of processing at more than 100 US embassies and consulates around the world," he added.


Asked whether Washington would cooperate if the Chinese government or any other government required American citizens to also undergo fingerprinting, Ereli said the United States had already complied in the past.


"And would note that all countries have the sovereign right to determine entry requirements of foreign nationals who apply for admission to their countries," he said.


Beginning from January 5 this year, the United States started to implement US-VISIT program in its 115 airports and 14 seaports, under the excuse of homeland security. Foreign visitors arriving with visas had to have their travel documents scanned, their fingerprints and photos taken and their identification checked against terrorist watch lists under the new program.


Children under 14, seniors over 79 and government officials as well as their spouses who hold diplomatic and business passport are not required to go through the fingerprinting and photographing procedures. But visitors from Canada and other 27 countries, enjoying the privilege of visa-free treatment, are not subjected to this program.


(China Daily March 25, 2004)

US Urged Not to Fingerprint Chinese
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