Ground crews spray disinfectant through an airplane cabin at Hefei Xinqiao International Airport, East China’s Anhui province on Jan. 23, 2021. Photo: VCG
The Biden administration’s criticism of China’s decision to cancel flights from the US to China due to passengers who tested positive for coronavirus is unfounded as countries must prioritize COVID-19 prevention in light of the pandemic, said industry insiders, noting that Washington should only blame its own rampant infection if it insists on finding a culprit.
Experts pointed out that using such an excuse to attack China is Washington’s attempt to intensify criticism of China’s COVID-19 prevention policies, as the West launched another torrent of defamation over China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy. ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“China’s actions are not in line with its obligations under the US-China Air Transport Agreement. We are in consultation with the (Chinese government) about this and we reserve the right to take regulatory action where necessary,” it was quoted as saying United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) according to Reuters.
The USDOT’s criticism came after China’s Civil Aviation Administration ordered the suspension of six more flights from the US to China in the coming weeks following a surge in passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Under the CAAC policy updated in April 2021, the airline’s flights will be suspended for two weeks if the number of passengers testing positive reaches five. The suspension will last for four weeks if the number of passengers who test positive reaches 10. China has canceled 142 inbound flights from abroad since January 6 this year, including the US, France, Canada and the Netherlands.
Criticism of the Biden administration is unreasonable as it cited the US-China air transport agreement, a clause that works during normal times, to criticize policies implemented during special times of dealing with the pandemic, Qi told Qi, an industry watcher, at Global Times on Thursday.
China’s “circuit breaker” policy for inbound COVID-19 cases is equal to any carrier, including Chinese carriers, Qi said.
There may be financial losses for a single airline, but Chinese airlines also suffer. Each country makes its epidemic prevention measures based on its own circumstances, and the policies are not designed for a specific country, he noted.
Airlines for America, a trade group that represents United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and others, said U.S. carriers are in “communication with the U.S. and Chinese governments to find a path forward that minimizes impact to travelers,” it reported. Reuters.
The wave of Omicron, a more contagious strain of the coronavirus, has brought with it a U.S. record of new COVID-19 cases since it surfaced in the U.S. in December 2021. The country reported 1.13 million new cases in one day on January 10.
The policy of “circuit breakers” remains consistent as Omicron pushed infection cases around the world. It’s normal for more flights to be canceled as the number of passengers who tested positive increased, a Beijing-based immunologist told the Global Times.
He noted that the US can only blame itself for the canceled flights to China, which is a result of China’s inability to handle the outbreak.
The Chinese embassy in the US changed its access policy to China on January 4 to deal with the rising number of infections in the US. It said travelers arriving from the US will be required to present at least two negative tests from various designated testing agencies and have their health checked in their departure city for seven days before flying to China.
The spat between Beijing and Washington over airlines started at the beginning of the pandemic. In August 2021, Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would limit single flights operated by Chinese airlines to 40 percent passenger capacity for four weeks after the Chinese government imposed similar limits on four United Airlines flights.
Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, said the US has no reason to limit the capacity of inbound air passengers on Chinese airlines.
China’s “circuit breaker” policy treats all airlines fairly, including domestic carriers, Hua said, adding that China will continue its epidemic control policy to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The US intent to start with the old argument is clear, that is, to intensify the defamation of China’s COVID-19 prevention policies ahead of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of Human Resources. International Relations of the University of Foreign Affairs of China, the Global Times told.
However, this “little move,” as well as other US tricks, cannot deter the influence of the Beijing Winter Olympics, nor can it deter China from successfully hosting this event, Li said.
Foreign media launched waves of attacks on China’s virus prevention policy, including citing rumors that Beijing will impose a lockdown during the Olympics. An official from Beijing’s organizing committee for the event said it was not true.