China is protesting about covid testing requirements being enforced by many countries for arrivals … [+]
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In response to the new Covid travel restrictions that come into force today for Chinese arrivals into many countries around the world, the Chinese government has issued a sharp rebuke, called the measures ‘discriminatory’—and it is threatening to retaliate with new measures of its own.
When China recently announced that it would finally open its borders on January 8 to allow non-residents to enter the country, it seemed as if Chinese residents would also be able to leave the country and travel worldwide—something that has been off limits to many travelers since March 2020.
This week, however, Covid testing for arrivals from China is about to restart in many airports worldwide. It’s a response to the surge of Covid through much of the Chinese population after strict internal restrictions were eased.
From 5 January, the U.S. has put in place new rules that require all air passengers to show a negative result from a test taken within 48 hours before departure from China, Hong Kong or Macau (for travelers aged 2 or older). The U.S. State Department also recently reissued its Level 3 travel advisory which asks Americans to reconsider travel to the country.
Other countries such as Australia, Canada, the U.K. and Japan also issued Covid travel restrictions. France will mandate that anyone arriving by air from China as of Wednesday 4 January will need a negative Covid test result taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival—and travelers will also be liable for random tests on arrival.
China has responded by saying that such measures are discriminatory and that they have been put in place to meet ‘political goals’—something that Bloomberg viewed as proof of just how politically sensitive the topic of Covid is to the Chinese government.
At a briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, “we believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable.”
Ning added that China is “firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the Covid measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”
However, the U.S. and other countries were quick to defend the new Covid travel restrictions. The French prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, told France-Info radio that her government was simply protecting the French, as per its role.
U.S. state department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that the U.S. was simply following scientific advice. The U.S. has expressed concerns about the efficacy of the Chinese Covid vaccination and the UN and World Health Organization have also publicly expressed concern over a lack of transparency in Chinese data regarding the spread of Covid, hospitalisations and deaths from the virus.
The Australian treasurer Jim Chalmers told ABC news that the new pre-flight testing restrictions were not particularly onerous on Chinese visitors.
Indeed, they mimic China’s new rules for travelers into its own country—from 8 January, travelers to China will be required to show a …….