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Beijing slams Covid rules on Chinese travelers as ‘unacceptable’

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Beijing threatened countermeasures after about a dozen countries put in place new requirements for COVID-19 testing on passengers traveling abroad from China, as the country faces a surge in cases.

Chinese authorities condemned the decision Tuesday after the United States, Canada, France and Japan among dozens of other countries confirmed they would now require travelers to show a negative COVID test prior to arrival.

“Some countries have introduced entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said at a regular briefing.

“This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable,” she added, warning that China may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”

China is seeing a sharp rise in infections after years of draconian, non-Covid restrictions that were abruptly eased last month with little warning or preparation, hospitals and crematoriums quickly being overwhelmed.

In late December, Beijing said inbound travelers would no longer be required to quarantine, prompting many Chinese to rush planning long-awaited overseas trips.

Countries have cited China’s lack of transparency about infection data and the risk of new variants emerging as reasons for restricting travellers.

China has recorded just 22 coronavirus deaths since December, after dramatically narrowing criteria for classifying such deaths.

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