Shanghai police shut down a call center used by the US embassy for visa applications, effectively bringing a nationwide halt to interview scheduling for mainlanders seeking US visas. Foreign Ministry officials said that the All-China Visa Information Center was conducting illegal operations by using fee collection techniques not approved by the government and charging too much for a formerly free service. A 12-minute call to the center to set up a visa interview cost RMB 54 (US$6.50). China recently stiffened visa application restrictions for US citizens in response to the US fingerprinting of Chinese visa applicants.
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