The US Department of Transportation is suspending 26 flights by Chinese airlines next month in a dispute over Beijing’s strict policies regarding travelers’ positive tests for COVID-19.
The retaliatory move follows the Chinese government’s decision to limit inbound flights by US carriers including United Airlines Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines Inc.
China’s actions are “adverse to the public interest” and warrant “additional proportionate remedial action by the Department,” the US regulator said in an order on Thursday.
The US government cited China’s practice of suspending flights by airlines if too many passengers test positive for COVID-19 after arriving, even though they must be free of the disease to board a flight.
The dispute is a clash between China’s zero-tolerance policies aimed at limiting the spread of disease and the US government’s insistence that China has contravened international treaties on flight access.
The US has taken similar actions before, such as in January when it suspended 44 flights scheduled by Chinese carriers.
The temporary flight ban targets service in September planned by several Chinese airlines, including Air China Ltd, China Eastern Airlines Corp, China Southern Airlines Co Ltd and Xiamen Airlines Co Ltd.
The US action is in response to China’s suspension of 26 flights by US carriers since February.
Representatives for United and American Airlines Group Inc said their companies would not have a statement on the action.
The Civil Aviation Authority of China on Aug. 7 said if at least 4 percent of passengers on a flight test positive for COVID-19 after arrival, one flight by that airline would be suspended.
If the number reaches 8 percent, two flights would be suspended, it said.
The policy eases previous standards that could suspend an airline’s flights for two weeks or limit passenger loads to 40 percent, according to the US order.
The US transportation authority said it is not seeking to ratchet up tensions, but acted because it believes China’s actions contravene a bilateral agreement governing flights between the two nations.
The Chinese policy places an “undue culpability on carriers” because the Chinese government clears each passenger and requires that they present a negative test for COVID-19, it said.
A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” that a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months — and refused bail before her appeal — amid global outrage at her “disproportionate” punishment. On Friday, Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April in a protest staged to draw attention to the global climate emergency. “I am alarmed at a NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing, ” UN Special
SECOND ATTEMPT: An overhaul of the criminal code is expected this month, after a similar move was in 2019 stymied by large-scale protests in the Muslim-majority country The Indonesian parliament is this month expected to pass a new criminal code that would penalize sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have said. The legislative overhaul would also ban insulting the Indonesian president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to the country’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned. Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesian Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters
CARROT-AND-STICK: Authorities tightened control over virtual private networks, which protesters used to access banned non-Chinese news and social media apps Chinese authorities have initiated the highest “emergency response” level of censorship, according to leaked directives, including a crackdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods of bypassing online censorship after unprecedented protests demonstrated widespread public frustration with the “zero COVID” policy. The crackdown, including the tracking and questioning of protesters, comes alongside the easing of pandemic restrictions in an apparent carrot-and-stick approach to an outpouring of public grievances. During an extraordinary week in China, protests against “zero COVID” restrictions included criticism of the authoritarian rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — which was further highlighted by the death of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: China has not approved any foreign COVID-19 vaccines and is opting for those produced domestically, the US Director of National Intelligence said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and recent protests could affect his personal standing in the Chinese Communist Party, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID-19 cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s “zero COVID” policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest. Despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and is instead relying on a vaccine