BEIJING: Chinese state-media said COVID-19 testing requirements imposed by several places around the world in response to a surging wave of infections were “discriminatory”, in the clearest pushback yet against restrictions that are slowing down its re-opening.
Having kept its borders all but shut for three years, imposing a strict regime of lockdowns and relentless testing, China abruptly reversed course toward living with the virus on Dec 7, and a wave of infections erupted across the country.
Some places have been taken aback by the scale of China’s outbreak and expressed scepticism over Beijing’s COVID statistics, with the United States, South Korea, India, Italy, Japan and Taiwan imposing COVID-19 tests for travellers from China.
“The real intention is to sabotage China’s three years of COVID-19 control efforts and attack the country’s system,” state-run tabloid Global Times said in an article late on Thursday, calling the restrictions “unfounded” and “discriminatory.”
China will stop requiring inbound travellers to go into quarantine from Jan 8. But it will still demand a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before departure.
Italy on Thursday urged the rest of the European Union to follow its lead, but France, Germany and Portugal have said they saw no need for new travel restrictions, while Austria has stressed the economic benefits of Chinese tourists’ return to Europe.
Global spending by Chinese visitors was worth more than US$250 billion a year before the pandemic.