Following Beijing’s announcement that crossings would reopen next week, the United States has become the latest country to implement Covid testing on Chinese travelers.
Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and India have also announced mandatory testing, while Australia and the United Kingdom have stated that there are no new requirements for Chinese visitors.
After three years of being closed to the rest of the world, China will reopen its borders on January 8th.
However, the country’s continuous Covid increase has raised concerns.
This week, China has officially reported roughly 5,000 cases per day, but analysts claim the statistics are drastically undercounted, and the daily caseload is closer to a million. According to reports, hospitals in large cities are overcrowded, and residents are unable to find essential medicines.
Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said on Wednesday that “Currently the growth of China’s epidemic condition is foreseeable and under control”.
He said China believed all countries’ Covid responses should be “science-based and proportional”, and should “not hinder normal people-to-people exchange”. He accused some countries and the media of “hyping up” the situation and distorting China’s Covid policy revisions.
China’s move to reopen its borders effectively ends the country’s contentious zero-Covid policy, which President Xi Jinping personally supported. Although the rest of the world was opening up and finding ways to live with the illness, Beijing insisted on mass testing and broad, strict lockdowns to reduce instances to zero.
The economy suffered, and people became fatigued and enraged; in November, this rage spilled onto the streets in rare rallies against Mr. Xi and his leadership.
Given the limited number of flights and the fact that many citizens still need to renew their passports, it’s uncertain how many Chinese people will go abroad after January 8.
However, the US has stated that beginning January 5, all inbound travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau must produce a negative Covid test – either a PCR or fast antigen test – taken 48 hours before their trip.
The requirements also apply to individuals flying through a third country and those connecting through the United States to other destinations.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was instating the action “to assist restrict the spread of the virus as we strive to detect and understand any potential new variations that may develop”.
It also accused China of failing to give “sufficient and transparent” Covid data, which it described as “essential” for successfully monitoring infection peaks and reducing the likelihood of new variations arising.