GT Voice: Rubio’s call for ban against China-US travel misleading
Published: Dec 03, 2023 10:54 PM
Marco Rubio arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing. Photo: AFP

Marco Rubio arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing. Photo: AFP

Further increasing direct flights between China and the US is the common desire of the societies on both sides, but some American politicians seem unwilling to see a restoration of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. As reported by Reuters, five Republican senators, led by Marco Rubio, on Friday asked US President Joe Biden's administration to impose a China travel ban after an increase in respiratory illnesses reported recently in China. 

The number of direct flights may offer a window to observe people-to-people exchanges and cross-border business activity, and is therefore viewed as a barometer of bilateral economic relations. China-US economic ties are built on the basis of mutual benefit, but it is regrettable to see some American politicians unwilling to cherish the economic complementarity. They don't want to see an increase in business and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. It is these people who are the troublemakers who have kept posing challenges to China-US economic cooperation.

It is not surprising that Rubio, an extreme nationalist and ideological fanatic, tries to make himself the center of attention. He might just be seeking the media limelight with shocking words, aiming at accumulating political capital and building his own anti-China hawkish image. It seems he will not give up using anything as an excuse in his efforts to attack China and undermine China-US relations, no matter how absurd the excuse is, from the so-called national security to the balloon incident in February and the ensuing ill-intentioned US hype over it. This time, the excuse used by Rubio has been changed to "respiratory illnesses," but the purpose was the same - to stigmatize China and harm China-US relations as much as possible.

As reported by the Xinhua News Agency, Mi Feng, a spokesperson with the National Health Commission, told a press conference on November 26 that the recent respiratory infectious diseases reported in China are mainly due to the influenza virus. It is extremely absurd and malicious for some American politicians to use influenza as a tool to smear China. They may have forgotten that fall and winter are also high seasons for influenza in the US. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall burden of influenza in the US for the 2019-20 period was an estimated 35 million flu-related illnesses, 16 million flu-related medical visits, 390,000 flu-related hospitalizations, and 25,000 flu-related deaths.

In the American politicians' geopolitical games, the interests of the US business community and ordinary people have always been sacrificed, with the excuse of not only the so-called national security but also the "respiratory illness" used this time. It also is worth noting that Rubio's call for a China travel ban comes at a time when China-US relations have shown positive signs of stopping a spiral decline and stabilizing, with increased flight frequencies serving as an important area in this regard. If more politicians in the US call for imposing a China travel ban, it will create a toxic political atmosphere and undermine China-US relations. This may be exactly what Rubio wants to see, although it will greatly harm the US economy and the interests of ordinary American people.

In October, the US Department of Transportation said that Chinese airlines could operate 35 weekly round-trip flights after November 9, up from 24. This was highly welcomed by the societies of both China and the US, and it was also one of the achievements of the restoration and strengthening of communications between the two countries' officials. 

We should cherish the hard-won situation to further expand cooperation. It requires joint efforts from both sides - not only from China but also from the US.

Many of America's top business leaders, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan, visited China this year, a move that was just a microcosm of the huge travel demand between China and the US. Some analysts said the resumption of flights between China and the US is entering an accelerated phase. 

However, the faster the resumption of flights between China and the US, the more hysterical some American politicians have become in trying to hinder this process, even calling for imposing a China travel ban. What are the obstacles that hinder the improvement of China-US relations? The answer is not respiratory illnesses reported recently in China, but some American politicians' geopolitical games, which are bringing uncertainty to China-US relations and greatly harming the US economy.