Beijing condemned the move by an increasing number of nations to mandate COVID-19 testing of Chinese travelers on January 3, 2023, and vowed to take “countermeasures” in retaliation.
Nations like the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy declared late last week that arrivals from China would need a negative test to access their borders. Since then, more nations, notably South Korea and India, have taken similar restrictions.
“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travelers,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, told reporters.
“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable,” she added, warning China could “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.” Last week, Beijing viewed the new rules as “discriminatory.”
Despite the threat of reciprocal measures, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that “we’re performing our duty in asking for tests,” and said that France would “continue to do it” for the foreseeable future.
Since December, China has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths. After almost three years and weeks of demonstrations over extraordinarily severe quarantine restrictions enforced by the country’s “zero COVID” policy, President Xi Jinping’s administration eventually abandoned this objective. In addition, China eased its immigration restrictions for foreigners.
Since then, other countries have complained about Beijing’s lack of transparency about its COVID numbers, particularly after the government announced it would alter how it counted deaths from the virus, and that it would no longer report asymptomatic cases.
During the height of the pandemic, governments across the globe placed quarantine, testing, and vaccination restrictions on foreign arrivals depending on the circumstances in the country from which the traveler was coming.