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China lashes out at countries restricting travel over virus

Authorities have registered “strong objections” with countries who have cut flights to China during the outbreak, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday.

Bloomberg|
Last Updated: Feb 06, 2020, 11.50 PM IST
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AP
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BEIJING: Beijing is growing increasingly angry at countries imposing harsh travel restrictions on visitors from China as the world tries to contain the spread of a deadly coronavirus.

Authorities have registered “strong objections” with countries who have cut flights to China during the outbreak, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday. She said countries were ignoring recommendations from the World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization, which have advised against cancelling flight routes and limiting travel to affected nations.

“We deplore and oppose those countries who went against WHO’s professional recommendations and ICAO’s bulletins,” Hua said. “Their actions, which sowed panic among the public, will not help prevent and control the epidemic. They have gravely disrupted normal personnel exchanges, international cooperation, and order of the international market for air transportation.”

Her comments are some of China’s harshest words yet for countries including the US, Australia and Singapore, which are barring non-resident visitors from mainland China, restricting flights and cancelling already-issued visas.

Even Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has closed border crossings and said it will soon implement a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the city from the mainland. China has already criticised the US for its travel restrictions. Conversely, it’s praised some of its traditional and more financially dependent allies, including Pakistan — which cancelled flights but quickly reversed course and started them again.

Long-serving Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose country has received billions in Chinese investment in recent years, has been one of Beijing’s staunchest supporters during the outbreak, which first emerged in December.

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