Countries politicizing COVID-19 response harm others without benefiting themselves

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Passengers wait in lines to check in at Nantong Xingdong International Airport, east China's Jiangsu province, Jan. 12, 2023. (Photo by Xu Congjun/People's Daily Online)
Passengers wait in lines to check in at Nantong Xingdong International Airport, east China's Jiangsu province, Jan. 12, 2023. (Photo by Xu Congjun/People's Daily Online)

By Zhong Sheng

After China enters a new phase of COVID response, many countries welcome its optimization and expect visits by Chinese tourists.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and other senior officials greeted the first group of Chinese tourists with flowers and gift bags at the airport. Maldives’ foreign ministry published a statement on its website, saying the country welcomes China’s adjustment of exit and entry measures and looks forward to receiving Chinese tourists soon.
Switzerland, New Zealand and some other countries made clear that they would not impose new restrictions on visiting Chinese tourists.

China has always optimized its COVID-19 response in light of the evolving situation in a science-based and targeted manner. Its provisional measures on cross-border travel were formulated based on the decision to manage COVID-19 with measures against Class-B infectious diseases. The measures can better coordinate COVID-19 control and socioeconomic development, and make cross-border travel more convenient, safe, orderly and efficient.

With the utmost sincerity and in a fact-based manner, China has carried out adequate communication with relevant countries, introducing in detail the current COVID-19 situation in China and that its optimization of the COVID-19 response is science-based and reasonable.

However, a few countries, turning a blind eye to science, facts and even their COVID-19 situations at home, have arbitrarily imposed discriminative entry restrictions on travelers from China, which is completely politicizing COVID-19 prevention and control.

Health experts from multiple international organizations and countries have pointed out that no new variant or dangerous mutation of the novel coronavirus has been detected in China, so tightening the entry policy towards travelers from China is neither science-based nor necessary.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said UN member states should follow WHO guidelines and it is very important that all decisions regarding screening of passengers and so on be taken on scientific grounds and only on scientific grounds.

Singaporean health minister noted that infections entering the country from China accounted for less than 5 percent of Singapore’s total imported cases in the last 4 weeks of 2022, far lower than figures from some other countries and regions. There’s no need for Singapore to tighten the entry policy towards travelers from China, the minister added.

Countries imposing entry restrictions on China travelers should listen to these voices and adopt a fact-based manner, make their COVID-19 response scientific, avoid political manipulation and discriminative measures, and maintain normal cross-border exchanges and cooperation.

China’s COVID-19 control policies have to the largest extent protected people’s lives and health, and minimized the pandemic’s impacts on economic and social development.

As the world is facing increased downward pressure on the global economy, China’s optimization of the COVID-19 response has facilitated cross-border travel and boosted confidence in global growth.

Heads of many international organizations, including the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, are optimistic about China’s economic prospects, believing the country’s optimization of the COVID-19 response will assist global recovery and development.

It is believed by the international community that China’s adjustment of exit and entry measures is a key point in the global tourism recovery process and will inject strong impetus into the comprehensive recovery of the tourism industry in relevant countries.

Thai newspaper Bangkok Post said a total of 5 million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year, which will forcefully drive the recovery of Thai tourism and economic development.

A few countries’ discriminative measures that undermine the normal flow of people will only hurt others without benefiting themselves.

Respecting science and facts is a piece of valuable experience for the international community to unite and cooperate in the fight against COVID-19. China will keep adapting prevention and control protocols to the evolving situation and work with relevant parties to safeguard safe and orderly cross-border travel, so as to maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains and to promote the healthy recovery of the world economy.

Countries politicizing China’s COVID-19 response should follow the science-based principle and the spirit of mutual respect, change their discriminative measures imposed on Chinese travelers as soon as possible, and create favorable conditions for normal personnel exchanges and cooperation.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)

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