China says COVID-19 restrictions against its travelers are politically motivated

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Jan. 3 (UPI) — China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said on Tuesday that COVID-19 restrictions taken by some countries against their travelers are not supported by research, adding the government is preparing to take retaliatory action.

In responding to questions during a news conference in Beijing, Mao said China is ready to work with any country to relieve their fears about Chinese tourists traveling to other countries while COVID-19 is on the rise but alleged some of the restrictions are politically motivated.

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“We do not believe the entry restriction measures some countries have taken against China are science-based,” Mao said.

“Some of these measures are disproportionate and simply unacceptable. We firmly reject using COVID measures for political purposes and will take corresponding measures in response to varying situations via the principle of reciprocity.”

The United States and others have complained that China has not been forthcoming about COVID-19 cases among its citizens, causing concerns by them and other Western nations about travelers coming from the communist country.

The European Union said last week that additional COVID-19 screenings for travelers arriving from China would be “unjustified.”

Italy broke from the EU in requiring antigen swabs for all passengers coming from China after a Dec. 26 flight from China to Milan’s Malpensa Airport found that 52% of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19.

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The United States and Britain announced last week new restrictions for Chinese travelers, saying that on Jan. 5 it would require a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test for anyone flying in from the China regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Japan, South Korea and Malaysia have all said they would conduct some restrictions and surveillance of travelers coming from China.

On Saturday, Canada said it would require a negative COVID-19 result for Chinese travelers with Australia following suit on Monday.

When asked about the comments from China, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price rejected the notion that the added restriction was based on politics.

“This is an approach that is based solely and exclusively on science,” he said during a Tuesday press conference.

“Due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the PRC, and the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC, we’re taking deliberate, proactive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to be on alert for any potential COVID-19 variants emerging,” he said, referring to the Asian nation by the initials of its official name, the People’s Republic of China.

Price added that the United States and other nations have repeatedly offered China vaccines and other COVID-19 support, which Beijing has turned down.

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“The PRC has indicated publicly that it appreciates the offer, but doesn’t need the support,” he said. “We continue to stand by that offer.”

In the meantime, COVID-19 cases continue to soar in China with a record 250 million cases over the past month, including 9,000 deaths per day. The dramatic increase has come after the country started to drop its zero-tolerance COVID restrictions after massive public protests.