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The US, Canada, Japan and France are among more than a dozen countries that have restricted travelers from China.

China has called increasing international restrictions on travelers from its territory “unacceptable” after more than a dozen countries imposed new coronavirus restrictions on visitors to the world’s most populous nation.

The United States, Canada, Japan and France are among countries insisting that all travelers to China provide negative COVID-19 tests prior to arrival, as concerns grow over rising cases.

The sharp rise in infections in China comes after Beijing abruptly lifted its zero COVID policies in December, causing hospitals and crematoria to quickly become overwhelmed.

However, Beijing moved ahead with the long-awaited reopening, announcing the end of mandatory quarantine on arrival last week, in a move that has Chinese people planning trips abroad.

“Some countries have adopted entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travellers,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told a regular briefing on Tuesday.

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

Airport staff wait for passengers arriving from China in front of a COVID-19 testing area set up at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris, Sunday, Jan 1, 2023. France says it will require negative COVID-19 tests from all passengers arriving from China and urges French citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China.  (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)
Airport staff waits for passengers arriving from China at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on January 1, 2023 [Aurelien Morissard/AP Photo]

However, when asked about China’s reaction, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne defended the new rules.

“I think we are doing our duty by asking for tests,” Borne told franceinfo radio. “We will continue to do so.”

The imposed rules affect all travelers coming from China, not just Chinese nationals, as Beijing continues to restrict the entry of visitors and not issue visas to tourists or international students.

Countries such as the US have also cited Beijing’s lack of transparency about infection data and the risk of new variants as a reason for restricting travellers.

China has recorded just 22 COVID deaths since December and has drastically lowered the criteria for classifying those deaths, meaning that Beijing’s own statistics on the unprecedented wave are now widely seen as not reflecting reality.

Virus takes over Shanghai

As healthcare workers across the country grapple with a spike in cases, a senior doctor at one of Shanghai’s top hospitals said 70% of the megacity’s population may have been infected with COVID-19, state media reported on Tuesday. -market.

Chen Erzhen, vice president of Ruijin Hospital and a member of Shanghai’s expert advisory panel on COVID, estimated that most of the city’s 25 million residents may have been infected.

“Now the spread of the epidemic in Shanghai is very wide and may have reached 70% of the population, which is 20 to 30 times more than [in April and May]”, he told Jiangdong Studio, which is owned by the spokesman of the People’s Daily Communist Party.

An elderly patient is pushed down a corridor in the emergency ward of a hospital in Beijing, Saturday, December 31, 2022. China is on a bumpy road back to normal life as schools, malls and restaurants fill up again with the easing of the COVID-19 Restriction.  The abrupt end to testing and other measures came as hospitals were flooded with feverish and panting COVID-19 patients.
An elderly patient is pushed down a corridor in the emergency ward of a hospital in Beijing. [Ng Han Guan/AP Photo]

In other major cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Guangzhou, Chinese health officials have suggested the wave has already peaked.

Concerns were also raised about the near-term growth prospects in the world’s second-largest economy, causing volatility in global financial markets.

Data released on Tuesday showed that China’s factory activity shrank at a sharper pace in December.

Last month, shipments from Foxconn’s iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, disrupted by worker departures and unrest amid a COVID outbreak, accounted for 90% of the company’s initial plans.

A “fire” of infections in China in coming months is likely to hurt its economy this year and dampen global growth, said International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva.

“China is entering the most dangerous weeks of the pandemic,” analysts at Capital Economics warned.

Mobility data suggested economic activity was depressed across the country and likely to remain so until infections eased, they added.