Chinese Regime Flip-Flops on COVID-19 Entry Requirements

Chinese Regime Flip-Flops on COVID-19 Entry Requirements
Tourists go through pre-departure formalities at the Sanya Phoenix airport as stranded holidaymakers prepare to leave the COVID-hit resort city of Sanya on Hainan Island, China on Aug. 9, 2022. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has recently gone back and forth on its COVID-19 restrictions for entering the country.

Just a day after announcing that it would lift certain entry requirements, the regime stated that it isn't loosening control. An expert believes that the attempt to loosen restrictions is just for show ahead of the CCP’s upcoming Party congress.

The Chinese regime’s General Administration of Customs posted on its official account on the Chinese social media platform WeChat on Aug. 25 that it would introduce a new "Entry-Exit Health Declaration Card" on Aug. 31, relaxing its requirements for reporting COVID-19 PCR results, past infections, and vaccination status for travelers coming in and out of the country.

Major Chinese mainland media outlets, such as Daily Economic News, all reported on the policy change as “important changes in the declaration of COVID-19 testing information for entry and exit.”

However, on Aug. 26, the General Administration of Customs office issued a statement saying that China still requires international passengers to return a negative COVID-19 PCR test before boarding a China-bound flight and be quarantined upon arrival.

The office stated that the revision to the "Health Declaration Card" wasn't to relax China's COVID-19 prevention and control restrictions, but to improve the efficiency of the declaration system.

“There are no major changes to the requirements," the statement reads.

According to current regulations, airline passengers must return two negative PCR tests within 48 hours of departure. They also have to report their test results and other COVID-related information to Chinese embassies in their countries for a digital health code for boarding.

The General Administration of Customs said in the statement that it adheres to the regime’s “zero-COVID" policy, “preventing the virus coming from other countries; while domestically preventing the rebound of the epidemic."

Regarding the Chinese Customs statements, Wang He, a current affairs commentator based in the United States, told The Epoch Times on Aug. 26 that the devil is always in the details. On the surface, the CCP said it would cancel certain requirements, but it remains questionable as to how they'll implement the new changes.

Wang said the CCP's approach to epidemic prevention was very different from that of the international community.

“After more than two years of lockdown, it has created difficulties in exchanges between China and other countries and has had a negative impact on the economy, diplomacy, and politics,” he said of the CCP's travel and other restrictions.

This time, customs announced the cancellation of some of the requirements.

"Maybe it [the CCP] intends to change its image on the eve of the 20th Party congress to show off its epidemic prevention and control performance," Wang said.

“However, domestically, the regime continues to carry out strict 'zero-COVID' measures, forcing people to do PCR testing. And they even made the Chinese women's volleyball team wear masks when competing at an international event. It is no longer about people’s well-being and humanity but has become a rigid political task.” Lin Cenxin and Yi Ru contributed to the report.