World News

As China Prepares For A Reopening, Travel Restrictions Are Increasing

January 6, 2023 / By Zunair Tahir / World News

Few days before China removes border restrictions and ushers in an eagerly anticipated resumption to travel for a populace that has been mainly confined to its home for three years, more nations around the world are requiring travellers from China to do Covid tests.

As of this coming Sunday, China will no longer compel incoming travelers to undergo quarantine. This is the most recent renunciation of its “zero-Covid” rule, which was put in place last month in response to protracted demonstrations over oppressive mass lockdowns.

However, the sudden shifts have made many of China’s 1.4 billion people vulnerable to the virus for the first time, sparking an infection wave that is overrunning certain hospitals, depleting the shelves of pharmacies of medication, and raising anxiety throughout the globe.

More than a dozen nations, including Greece, Germany, and Sweden, demanded Covid testing on Chinese travellers on Thursday after the World Health Organization said that China’s official viral statistics was understating the full scope of the outbreak.

Chinese officials and state media have adopted a confrontational stance, defending the outbreak’s management, downplaying the seriousness of the spike, and criticizing restrictions on people’ travel outside.

The Global Times, a publication of the official People’s Daily of the ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial late on Thursday that “certain Western media and some Western politicians will never be happy, no matter how China decides to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.”

The move to require testing of visitors from China has drawn criticism from the international aviation sector, which has been harmed by years of pandemic restrictions. After January 8, China will continue to demand pre-departure testing for visitors.

Some Chinese people believe the reopening was rushed.

“They need to have done a number of things before opening up… a 70-year-old man who identified himself only as Zhao told Reuters in Shanghai that they should “at the very least make sure that the pharmacies were adequately stocked.”

Five further Covid fatalities were recorded on China’s mainland on Thursday, raising the country’s official viral death toll, which is among the lowest in the world at 5,264.

But it runs counter to the reality on the ground, where hospitals are overflowing with elderly people on respirators and funeral homes are understaffed.

According to the Shanghai Morning Post, more than 200 cab drivers in Shanghai are also operating ambulances to accommodate the demand for emergency services.

These optimism, together with government initiatives to support the country’s struggling real estate market, helped the Chinese yuan rise on Friday.

The Shanghai Composite Index and China’s blue-chip CSI300 Index have both increased by more than 2% in the first trading week of the year.

Herald van der Linde, director of equities strategy for HSBC in Asia Pacific, wrote in a note that while the re-opening is “expected to be a rough affair with growing COVID-19 cases and more taxed health systems,” “we economists anticipate growth momentum across Asia to gather pace, driven by China.”

The mainland is also scheduled to open the border with its special administrative territory of Hong Kong on Sunday, for the first time in three years, in anticipation of the significant Lunar New Year celebrations later this month.

On the same day, ferry service between the city and Macau, the epicentre of gambling, will restart.

Cathay Pacific Airways of Hong Kong said on Thursday that it will more than treble its number of flights to mainland China. Flights to and from China are still just a small portion of what they were before Covid.

Over the vacation, authorities anticipate 2.1 billion passenger travels by land, sea, and air, more than twice the 1.05 billion trips made during the same time last year.

In order to reduce the danger of infection for young children, pregnant women, and elderly relatives, the transport ministry has asked individuals to exercise caution.

Southeast Asia is one region that stands to gain significantly from China’s openness since no country there has required Chinese travellers to complete Covid testing.

Many Chinese users have announced their trip intentions on social media, but other individuals are still hesitant.

One WeChat user from Tianjin city warned: “You want to see the world, but the world might not want to see you.


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