Chinese official describes three-point plan. Perhaps it was merely coincidence that the Chinese government has seemed to shift away from the confrontational rhetoric that has occasionally characterized US-Chinese relations over the past few years. Perhaps not. Regardless, while the INBOUND team lays no claim to being expert sinologists, it can detect things in the way that the world’s largest source market for international tourism likes to draw attention to what it is doing relative to travel and tourism, as well as where it does it and when it does so.
At the beginning of the month, the Global Times—a daily newspaper that operates under the auspices of the Chinese People’s Daily, an official organ of the Chinese Communist Party, and which focuses on international issues—reported on what a key Chinese official had to say at a joint U.S.-China forum that had just taken place. What the official had to say, as well as the wide coverage of his remarks, ensured that what was said would receive wide attention. (The forum, a joint U.S.-China collaboration on COVID-19 prevention and treatment organized by the Washington-based Brookings Institution and Tsinghua University in Beijing.)
As reported by the Global Times, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposed that China and the U.S. should work jointly to lift mutual travel restrictions in August or September when the United States is expected to reach herd immunity, suggesting the two countries seek mutual recognition of vaccinations and give priority to official, business travel and overseas study.
In explaining the proposal to the Global Times, Wu said that the free travel plan between China and the U.S. should proceed in three steps.
First, China and the U.S. should mutually recognize vaccinations in the other country and limit free travel to only those who have been vaccinated.
Second, free travel should then be given to official and business travel and overseas study and
Third, all travel types should be covered.
It was noted that China is the safest country in the world in terms of COVID-19 prevention, with no community transmission reported and the U.S. is likely to vaccinate around 80 percent of its population by June and 90 percent by August, reaching herd immunity, said Wu, explaining that, “If that is the case and if we could remove all political barriers, just based on science, the two countries could possibly be the first two countries to lift travel restrictions with each other.”
There is more, much more, that would factor to into any serious discussion of the proposal. China, for instance, would likely want the U.S. to revisit the issue of trade tariffs and what it regards as interference in matters involving Hong Kong and Taiwan. And, as of this writing, the Administration of President Joe Biden has yet to appoint and secure a new ambassador to China.
Again – the timing. The potentially huge impact of a plan to re-start travel between the United States and China took on even more significance, coming as it did just before (March 5-11) the annual session of China’s governing body—The National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China (NPC). It is the highest organ of state power and the national legislature of the People’s Republic of China. With some 3,000 members, it is the largest parliamentary body in the world. The National People’s Congress meets in full session and votes on important pieces of legislation.
We do not know enough about what goes on at such an event as the one above, but the process of making such a change in U.S.-China travel seems to be guaranteed a level of attention it would not have received were it less than appointment. (For the principal article cited in this article, visit here.)