New round of travel restrictions . . .
The Chinese government announced yesterday night a travel ban on the entry of foreigners into the country, including long-term foreign residents and holders of valid visas. The government also ordered that each domestic and foreign airline reduce passenger flights into China to one per week and that they limit occupancy to 75 per cent. In addition to limiting foreigners entering China, it will also limit the number of overseas Chinese citizens able to return home.
Disease control versus economic activity . . .
China had no new domestic COVID-19 transmission cases yesterday. But the country did see 54 new cases from abroad, bringing the total number of imported cases to 595. As the Chinese government is promoting a narrative of victory over COVID-19 both domestically and internationally, it is apprehensive about a second wave of an epidemic that might undermine its previous success. Today, in fact, in an abrupt reversal of policy, China re-closed all of its cinemas in a bid to counter that second wave. At the same time, the government is anxious to restart economic activity, so it did not set any limits on the number of incoming cargo flights in order to facilitate the flow of goods and products both inside and outside of the country.
Need for better international collaboration . . .
Because about half of the world’s airfreight is actually transported through the bellies of passenger aircraft, this ban on passenger flights is likely to have implications not only on China’s foreign trade, but also on the flow of protective medical gear, notably masks and respirators, that is urgently needed around the world. China’s foreign ministry declared that ‘practices of other countries’ is one of the reasons that it put the travel ban in place, suggesting that this is partially a retaliatory move, possibly in response to earlier U.S. travel bans. Better co-ordination between China and other countries, including Canada, could potentially facilitate more safe travel, the flow of goods, and the supply of essential medical supplies across nations, while ensuring better medical monitoring of disease transmission.
- The Atlantic: The modern supply chain is snapping
- Bloomberg: Fearing next wave, China doesn’t want its diaspora coming back
- The New York Times: To slow virus, China bars entry by almost all foreigners