China threatens retaliation over ‘unacceptable’ travel restrictions

Coronavirus: UK to impose screening on travellers from China

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China has criticised Covid testing requirements imposed by a number of countries on Chinese travellers and has threatened to retaliate. The virus is spreading in an almost uncontrolled fashion across China after Beijing abandoned its strict Zero Covid strategy to cut out all community transmission based on mass testing, lockdowns and quarantines.

Countries such as the US, UK, India, Japan and several European countries have announced tougher measures aimed at Chinese travellers amid concerns about a lack of data and that a new variant may occur.

However at a briefing Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the entry requirements lacked a “scientific basis” as well as being “excessive” warning that Beijing could retaliate in kind.

She said: “We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable.

“We are firmly opposed to attempts to manipulate the Covid measures for political purposes and will take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”

The comments come as Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries insisting that travellers from China take a Covid test before boarding a flight.

US state department spokesperson Ned Price defended Washington’s demand for Covid tests from Chinese travellers when speaking to reporters.

He said: “This is an approach that is based solely and exclusively on science.”

Mr Price added the measures have “very public health concerns that undergird them” because of “the surge of COVID-19 cases in the PRC and the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC.”

However Price also reiterated that the US would be willing to share its Covid vaccines with China.

International experts have argued that Chinese made vaccines are less effective.

From Wednesday Chinese travellers going to France will need to present a negative virus test taken within the previous 48 hours and could be subject to random testing on arrival.

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has defended the requirements when speaking to France-Info radio.

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She said: “We are in our role, my government is in its role, protecting the French.”

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers told broadcaster ABC that a pre-flight test was not “especially onerous” and was “consistent with the steps being taken in other countries”.

In relation to possible retaliation from Beijing Chalmers added “countries will make their own decisions about travel arrangements and how they manage Covid more broadly”.

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