Beijing calls for normalization of cross-border travel as US reported to relax COVID-19 testing rules for travelers from China
Published: Mar 08, 2023 09:38 PM
Travellers from a Xiamen Airlines flight arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on January 9, 2023, as China removed Covid-19 travel restrictions. Photo: VCG

Travellers from a Xiamen Airlines flight arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on January 9, 2023, as China removed Covid-19 travel restrictions. Photo: VCG

China on Wednesday called on related countries to normalize cross-border travel as the US was reported to be planning to relax COVID-19 testing rules for travelers from China. 

China has always believed all countries should use science-based and proportionate COVID-19 response measures, and wished that related countries would work with China to bring more convenience for Chinese and foreign travelers, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

US media outlets reported that the Biden administration decided to loosen COVID-19 testing restrictions for travelers from China as soon as Friday. 

US health and national security officials reached a decision on Tuesday to roll back the testing requirements as driven by public health, rather than foreign policy priorities, and they were expected to begin notifying US airlines, Chinese diplomats and others before announcing the change, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

When asked for response to the report and if there would be any chance to further increase flights to China, United Airlines told the Global Times on Wednesday in an e-mail that it has no more information to provide but will continue to monitor the discussions between the two governments.

Since January 5, the US required travelers aged over two years old who come from the Chinese mainland, or the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, either directly or indirectly, to have a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours before entering the US.

The airline companies should confirm negative tests and documentation of recovery before passengers board the plan.

The US government's reported decision came amid the surging number of people exiting and entering China since the country downgraded its COVID-19 management and further optimized immigration policies on January 8. China's National Immigration Administration said that there have been over 39.72 million people registered as entering or exiting the country as of Tuesday.

An insider from the US tourism industry told the Global Times on Wednesday that the alleged travel restriction removal is sudden but good news, as the US travel sector has been looking forward to the return of Chinese tourists.

Zhou Yu, general manager of Visit California's Beijing Representative Office, told the Global Times that confidence in the Chinese market had never changed. "Several months before the news, we were already making plans to tap the Chinese market."

Other countries with similar COVID-19 restrictions on travelers from China have already eased or planned to loosen testing rules. At the beginning of March, Japan changed cross-border travel compulsory testing for all people into random tests for people entering from the Chinese mainland. South Korea will lift the COVID-19 testing requirement from Saturday, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

On March 8, 2023 local time, , at the immigration office of , An entry inspection guide for short-term foreigners from China is placed at the Terminal 1 of Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea on March 8, 2023. South Korean government announced that day to  that it will lift the obligation of pre-departure inspection and filling in the quarantine information input system for people travelling from China from March 11. Photo: VCG