'Full of prejudice, political manipulation,' FM criticizes Western media smears on China's epidemic policy shift
More countries welcome Chinese travelers, expecting to boost exchanges after border reopening
Published: Dec 28, 2022 11:15 PM
Beijing Daxing International Airport Photo: Xinhua

Beijing Daxing International Airport Photo: Xinhua

More and more countries have extended their olive branches to actively welcome Chinese tourists after China decided to resume international tourism and scrap tests and quarantine for arrivals from January 8. However, several Western countries and regions including the US and Japan are mulling introducing or have strengthened COVID-19 measures against travelers from China, while at the same time smearing China's epidemic policy adjustment with groundless accusations through media.

Responding to some Western media outlets which have discredited China's COVID policy shift and hyped that China's epidemic fight has failed, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a regular press briefing on Wednesday that the claims are prejudiced hype, smears and political manipulation with ulterior motives, which cannot stand the scrutiny of the facts, and run counter to the truth. 

At present, the pathogenicity and virulence of the Omicron have significantly weakened, while China's capabilities in medical treatment, pathogen detection and vaccination continue to improve, leading to the optimizations of the country's COVID measures, Wang said. 

"This [COVID policy shift] is scientific, timely and necessary. The purpose is to maximize the safety and health of the people and minimize the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development," the spokesperson stated.

He continued, countries around the world go through a period of adaptation when adjusting their epidemic prevention policies, and China's shift is no exception. 

Wang noted that at present, the development of the epidemic situation in China is generally expected and under control with Beijing being the first to pass the peak of the epidemic and local production and life are gradually returning to normality. Also, Chinese authorities have made scientific assessments and necessary preparations for the possible peak of the epidemic in other provinces and cities, and have full confidence in ensuring smooth and orderly progress of the transition, Wang stressed.

However, some Western media deliberately hyped up or even distorted the adjustment of China's epidemic prevention and control policy, but avoided talking about the widespread epidemic prevention chaos experienced by their countries and the heavy price they have paid, Wang pointed out. 

"This is a complete double standard and seriously violates the professional ethics of journalism," the spokesperson condemned.

Wang's remarks came following a report on Wednesday by Bloomberg which revealed that the US is considering taking new coronavirus precautions for people traveling from China, citing "a rapid rise in infections" in the country.

In the Wednesday report, Bloomberg again raised the so-called "concern" that the epidemic in China could spawn "a dangerous new variant" to the world after the country eased its COVID measures. Last week, the media outlet also hyped the claim.

In response, Wang said on Wednesday that the current COVID situation in the world continues to call for a science-based response approach and joint efforts to ensure safe cross-border travel, keep global industrial and supply chains stable and restore world economic growth. We have always believed that for all countries, COVID response measures need to be science-based and proportionate without affecting normal people-to-people exchange, Wang said.

On Tuesday, US' ally Japan announced it would strengthen border control steps against travelers from China, including requiring travelers from the Chinese mainland to take tests for COVID-19 upon arrival, starting from Friday.

The separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities in the island of Taiwan on Wednesday also follow suit by announcing strengthening COVID measures against travelers from the Chinese mainland and requesting self-quarantine and self-testing for seven days for the travelers starting from January 1.

In contrast, France took the lead in warmly welcoming Chinese tourists as the French Embassy in China said on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo that "Chinese friends, France welcomes you with open arms!"

At least a dozen other national tourism authorities in countries including Thailand, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Spain have expressed anticipation for Chinese travelers next year.

Headlined "Thailand anticipates windfall from China's easing of travel restrictions," a Thai media outlet reported that their Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith  predicted that the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand next year is expected to double, and Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand in droves.

Wang also revealed on Wednesday that many countries have expressed a positive attitude toward China's new measures for the exchange of Chinese and overseas personnel, and look forward to further resumption of personnel exchanges with China.

In face of the mixed reactions from other countries and regions to China's COVID policy shift, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that on the one hand, there is no need to mind if they are just precautions and are adopting temporary epidemic measures for travelers from the mainland as it is inevitable to see a short-time epidemic surge in China after its policy shift.

However, on the other hand, we firmly oppose smears with vicious motives by media and anti-China figures, the observer stressed. 

"Responding to the epidemic is the common cause of the whole world, and people who deliberately targeting a country must have no moral bottom line," Lü criticized.

Some Western countries such as the US were not able to take their own epidemic seriously before, and they are not able to take seriously China's achievements in the COVID fight - this is the main factor that caused the previous failures in the US and some other countries to control their domestic epidemic tsunami.

For example, the US has surpassed the 1 million threshold of COVID-19 deaths in May, data showed.

A Chinese medical expert, who requested anonymity, said that "some Western media claimed that China's border resumption will disrupt the world and cause virus mutations, then I would like to ask why they previously decided to reopen their borders, kept persuading China to resume borders and now in return try to blame China's border reopening."

Wang Wenbin also noted on Wednesday that the fact is that over the past three years since the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese government has mobilized all resources to protect the life, safety and health of every Chinese, withstood successive shocks of the virus, and effectively weathered the worst of times. Globally, China has the lowest rate of severe illness and mortality.