How can US media expect Chinese tourists when its govt sends a hostile signal?
Published: Jan 05, 2023 12:01 AM
Passengers walk out of Haikou Meilan International Airport on December 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

Passengers walk out of Haikou Meilan International Airport on December 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

The US has shown itself as a sinner under the guise of a saint, and it is particularly true when it comes to China-related issues.

As China has adjusted its COVID-19 response and lifted overseas travel restrictions, many countries are expecting a surge of Chinese tourists in what they call "revenge travel." Nonetheless, the US media are worrying that the US may be unable to share the global dividends brought about by Chinese tourists. A recent Bloomberg article noted that the US, historically a popular destination for Chinese going abroad, may struggle to be included in the countries that Chinese tourists favor. 

The US media should not be too forgetful about the fact that right after China optimized its anti-virus measures, the US is among the first group of countries that require Chinese arrivals to have a negative COVID-19 test or proof they had recovered from a previous infection. 

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that the US sends a hostile signal to Chinese tourists as it views them as the carriers of virus.

"China eases its travel restrictions as China's anti-virus fight comes to a new stage. It is also out of the need that China and the outside world should keep communications. Nonetheless, in terms of people-to-people exchanges, the US prioritizes politics over economy. This is in line with the US' China containment strategy," said Li.

Li added that while Bloomberg worried about US' exclusion from the Chinese people's favored destinations, it should also not be too forgetful that the US media plays a supplementary role in the US government's strategy to contain China. He describes the US government and the US media as the two sculptured fierce-looking gods usually guarding a temple gate.

It is the recklessness of the US' containment of China that makes it lose appeal among Chinese tourists. A survey of public opinion in China conducted by researchers at Rice University, the National University of Singapore and the University of British Columbia, published in April last year, showed the country's perceptions of the US plummeted during the presidency of Donald Trump. 

From Trump's trade war and suppression of tech giant Huawei, to the Biden administration's expanding and deepening containment of China, the US' behavior is the direct reason for the worsening of China-US ties and the subsequent loss of appeal of the US among Chinese people, said Xu Liang, an associate professor at the School of International Relations of Beijing International Studies University.

"This has nothing to do with the natural sceneries of the US, but solely the broad environment of China-US ties. When the broad environment is bad, the travel sector will not be good. In addition, Chinese travelers' choice tends to be influenced by the general political climate. So when China-US ties worsen, they would choose not to go to the US," said Xu.

On the one hand, the US politicizes the pandemic and shows hostility toward Chinese tourists, but on the other hand expects to gain profits from them. This is a typical sinner under the guise of a saint. Such an image runs through the practice of the US' foreign policy - it only wants to solve problems of its own concern, get its own desired result and benefit unilaterally. In terms of China-US relations, the US contains China hysterically while calling for cooperation. 

Li Haidong from the China Foreign Affairs University believes that when the US yells for cooperation, it does not truly seek cooperation with China, but to woo other countries to side with the US in the China-US competition. Cooperation agendas have all been weaponized by the US.

"The US' so-called cooperation with China is nothing but a decoration. What's really in US' mind is competition and confrontation. Issues such as climate change, the pandemic and nuclear non-proliferation are all exploited by the US to defame China under the banner of cooperation. Whenever the US talks about cooperation, China feels that it lacks sincerity," said Li.

It may be a chance for the US to realize what it did in the past equals shooting itself in the foot. If the US truly wants to enjoy China's travel dividends, it should show a welcoming gesture to China's optimized pandemic response and the incoming Chinese tourists.