BRUSSELS ( Associated Press) – The European Union and China edged closer to a serious political confrontation on Tuesday over the COVID-19 crisis. Beijing strongly rejected travel restrictions that some European Union countries have started implementing and which could be extended in the coming days.
Beijing categorically rejected an offer of aid, including vaccine donations, from the European Union, insisting that the health situation on its soil was “under control” and that medical supplies were “sufficient”, according to government spokesman Mao. ” Was.
And as the 27-nation bloc moves closer to imposing some sort of joint ban on travelers from China, Beijing has made abundantly clear what EU travelers will expect in return.
Mao warned, “We strongly oppose attempts to manipulate COVID measures for political purposes and will retaliate based on the principle of reciprocity.”
However, the EU was determined to take some kind of joint action to ensure that travelers from China did not carry the potential new variant to the mainland. “Travellers to China should be prepared for decisions made on short notice,” the Swedish government, which holds the EU presidency, warned in a statement.
Several EU member states announced individual measures last week. At the same time, the EU Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed that the situation in China does not pose an immediate threat to general health.
“Variants circulating in China are already circulating in the EU and, as such, pose no challenge to the immune response of EU citizens,” the European Center said in its latest impact report published on Tuesday.
Other scientists have also said that travel restrictions will have little effect on the disease, but they also stressed the value of detecting possible variants of COVID-19 that are not currently in Europe.
Australia and Canada this week joined a growing list of countries that are requiring travelers from China to pass a COVID-19 test before boarding their flight, as the country rapidly eases restrictions to contain the coronavirus. Battling the outbreak, they were in force for almost the entire pandemic.
The United States, Britain, India, Japan and several EU countries have also imposed strict COVID-19 measures on Chinese travelers amid fears of a lack of data on infections in the country and the spread of new variants of the virus.
China, which for most of the pandemic pursued a “zero COVID” strategy with tough restrictions to eradicate the virus, abruptly relaxed protocols in December.
Chinese authorities previously announced that travelers arriving from abroad from January 8 would no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in the country, paving the way for people to leave the country again.
Associated Press writer Liu Zheng in Beijing contributed to this report