Hi guys, just wanted to issue a quick warning for anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation as well as get some feedback from anyone this has happened to.
So, I'm a Korean national and I booked a flight that would transition through China - with a roughly 14 hour layover in Shanghai. Since South Korea is listed among the 24-hour visa free pass countries and I'd already visited China a few times before, I figured there'd be no issue.
Totally wrong. At passport control, the guy flipped through my passport several times and then started to question me about my visits to Turkey. He then called his supervisor and I was asked to wait. I ended up waiting for 2 hours while various passport control officers came to:
1. Ask why I'd been in Turkey, why I'd been there more than once, why I'd stayed so long, did I have property there, have family there, etc. I explained it was all tourism related, that Turkey's a huge country with lots of places to go and see and things to do but apparently, this wasn't satisfactory.
2. Eventually, I was told that I would not be allowed into China and moreover, they wouldn't even let me transfer to my next flight (which I could've done without passing through customs). Instead, I was told to wait (without internet access so I could contact my family) and given one option: go to Hong Kong. No explanations, just repeated "THIS IS NEW POLICY." There were no real options given, just intimidation all around. They even had an officer - albeit a friendly one - escort me all the way to my plane to make sure I got on it. Again, no explanations as to why I was treated like a criminal.
So here I am in Hong Kong now at 2AM in the morning without a plane ticket out, no hotel booked and without my luggage, wondering...what the hell just happened. I'm an obvious traveler, been to around 50 different countries as evident from my passport and this is the first time something akin to this has occurred. Even Israel wasn't so crazy about my visits to various Muslim countries.
Anyway, wanted to warn people who are considering booking a transit through China that they can arbitrarily deny entry for no discernible reason and have your travel plans completed screwed.
If you can transit through another country - DO IT! I, for sure, will never be repeating this again.