Re: A couple of meta points -- IETF 100, Singapore, onwards

John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com> Wed, 25 May 2016 13:39 UTC

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Date: Wed, 25 May 2016 09:34:54 -0400
From: John C Klensin <john-ietf@jck.com>
To: Ole Jacobsen <olejacobsen@me.com>, Adam Roach <adam@nostrum.com>
Subject: Re: A couple of meta points -- IETF 100, Singapore, onwards
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--On Tuesday, May 24, 2016 12:38 -0700 Ole Jacobsen
<olejacobsen@me.com> wrote:

>...
> Suppose we could predict# that some number of attendees from
> China  would be denied* entry into the US or Canada or
> Argentina at an upcoming meeting. Should we conclude that
> holding the meeting in those locations is unacceptable and
> seek a relocation?

> * By "denied" I mean no response received about visa
> application, visa denied, visa approved months after meeting
> took place, etc. In one IETF meeting, 77 people from China
> applied for letters of invitation and visas, 27 were able to
> receive the visas in time to attend.
> 
># Predicting is hard, but we know that there are almost always
> visa problems for the Chinese when we meet in the US or Canada.
> Sometime it is much worse than other times.

Ole,

Since we seem to be waxing philosophical here, three
complementary rhetorical questions:

(1) The easiest place for Chinese citizens to attend a meeting,
with a guarantee of no visa problems, is (obviously) China.    A
corollary to our question above is that we should be holding
additional meetings in China (some "somewhere in Asia that might
be relatively friendly to Chinese passport holders").  How would
you balance that reason for planning more meetings in China
against the disadvantages of doing so, disadvantages that
include uncertainty about visas for others (see below), air
quality issues, questions about availability of open networks
(at least for attendees staying in other than the official hotel
and possibly for the general population), etc.?  Note that
inverting that question turns into exactly your question above
about very large numbers of US and Canadian attendees versus
visa issues.

(2) Very often, I suggest including in the situation of Chinese
passport holders trying to get visas for the US or Canada (and
especially its variability), delays, hassles, and other barriers
exist on a tit-for-tat basis, i.e., "you make it unpleasant[1]
for our citizens to visit your country; we  will make it
unpleasant for yours to visit ours".  Your observation "sometime
it is much worse than other times" is almost certainly a symptom
of such behavior.   It is often nearly impossible to figure out
who really started such escalations and possibly not helpful
even if it can be figured out.  Do you adjust the weighting
factor if the countries involved are doing it to each other? [2]

(3)  China and the US are now granting 10 year visas, which
presumably implies that, even if the (reciprocal) processes
don't get more pleasant, the frequency with which one needs to
go through them should be vastly reduced.  I assume that getting
such a visa requires evidence of likelihood of frequent travel.
Does that imply that we should hold more meetings in China so
that the visa authorities can be told, in invitation letters,
how often people will be coming back?  More meetings in the US
or Canada, with the invitation letters specifying all such
meetings and the invitation of the applicant to them?

     john


[1] "Unpleasant" including high fees, requirements to schedule
f2f interviews, long lead times, general discourtesy, demands
for unreasonable levels of documentation, and general "you need
to prove your innocence beyond any plausible doubt" behavior. 

[2] For the record, I've been timed out on an application for a
Chinese visa after getting several of them before and after.  I
have every reason to believe that the main reasons was someone's
(or some institution's) idea of reciprocity.   But timeouts for
US passport-holders trying to go to China are not a theoretical
issue (fwiw, I've also been timed out by Brazil -- nothing
unique about China or the US-China relationship).