Threat comes three years after Beijing allowed international flights from Wuhan during first months of COVID outbreak
Ben Wilson • January 4, 2023 5:15 pm
The Chinese government on Tuesday threatened to impose “countermeasures” after the United States required travelers from China to provide a negative coronavirus test to enter the country.
“We believe that the entry restrictions adopted by some countries targeting China lack scientific basis, and some excessive practices are even more unacceptable,” said Mao Ning, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mao added that testing requirements are “for political purposes” and the Chinese Communist Party will respond “based on the principle of reciprocity.”
The United Kingdom and a majority of countries in the European Union are joining the United States in requiring negative COVID tests for travelers from China. The country is facing an outbreak of cases after easing its “Zero COVID” policies in December following mass anti-government protests.
It is unclear what “countermeasures” Beijing could enact—U.S. travelers to China are already “subject to a minimum 10-day quarantine” at their own expense and may be required to download location-tracking software to their phones in order to “access public spaces and businesses,” according to the U.S. embassy in China.
China’s threats come three years after the communist nation allowed international flights from the virus’s origin city of Wuhan during the first months of the coronavirus outbreak, even while it cracked down on domestic travel. Republican lawmakers have alleged that China’s efforts to withhold information about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic may have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world.
The United States will require tests starting Jan. 5. Mike Ryan, a senior official with the World Health Organization, said China is underrepresenting its COVID case count.
“We believe that the current numbers being published from China underrepresent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, particularly in terms of death,” Ryan said Wednesday.
A doctor in Shanghai, the most populated city in China, said Tuesday that 70 percent of the city’s population may be infected.