China has threatened the use of unspecified ‘countermeasures’ against countries that have imposed new pandemic travel rules against travellers arriving from mainland China and, in some cases, Hong Kong and Macau.
On Tuesday, China’s ministry of foreign affairs blasted a growing number of governments that have raced to slap travellers from China with new testing rules and other restrictions.
“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” complained ministry spokesperson Mao Ning according to the AFP. “This lacks scientific basis, and some practices are unacceptable.”
Mao Ning said China was considering taking “countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity”.
Most countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain and Qatar, are only requiring travellers from China to show a negative COVID-19 test certificate before boarding a flight – rules which only mimic China’s own pandemic travel rules.
The testing requirement applies to all travellers from China, regardless of nationality, citizenship or vaccination status.
Governments around the world have expressed concern about the lack of data coming out of China and fear the authorities are hiding the extent of the growing outbreak in the country.
In a press release, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there was a “lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data”.
“Variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world. However, reduced testing and case reporting in the People’s Republic of China and minimal sharing of viral genomic sequence data could delay the identification of new variants of concern if they arise,” a statement from the agency continued.
The U.S. is considering sequencing airline wastewater on flights from China to help detect emerging variants of concern. Belgium has already confirmed it will start sampling airline wastewater on direct flights from China.
On Tuesday, the European Union is set to meet again in an attempt to agree on a coordinated continent-wide response to China’s spiralling COVID infection numbers. Last week, the EU’s top health officials downplayed the threat before member states, led by Italy, acted unilaterally to impose travel restrictions.
After being effectively cut off from the rest of the world for nearly three years, China suddenly lifted the vast majority of its invasive pandemic restrictions at the end of 2022.
Travellers entering China no longer need to quarantine in a centralised facility or undergo frequent testing, but travellers must have tested negative for COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to China.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.