The Chinese government has stopped issuing import permits to Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp., a spokesman for the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group confirms to Ward’s.

“They stopped issuing import certificates in mid-September, but they have not notified us officially,” he says. “Unless this is resolved soon, it could seriously affect our deliveries to the Chinese market, especially of high-end models like the Veracruz and Santa Fe.

“We were planning to begin exporting the Genesis to China soon, and this is a setback for that program.”

The government move reportedly is in response to complaints from Kia dealers through the China Automobile Dealers Assn. that they are being pressured to accept more vehicles from the auto maker, even though they already have bloated inventories.

There was no complaint against Hyundai, but the agency stopped issuing import certificates for both Hyundai and Kia, the spokesman says, noting Hyundai exports about 1,500 vehicles to China every month and Kia about 800.

According to Chinese sources, the import certificates were denied by an agency within the ministry of commerce.

A Kia spokesman tells Ward’s exports of five models are being held up: the Sedona minivan, Optima sedan, Sorento SUV, Carens multipurpose vehicle and Borrego SUV.

Hyundai and Kia sell about 520,000 cars annually in China, most of them produced locally, but 50,000 reportedly are imported from South Korea.

Kia’s joint venture in China, Dongfeng Yueda Kia Motors Ltd., sold 10,212 vehicles in September, compared with deliveries of about 800 vehicles imported from South Korea, the Kia spokesman says.