White House Defends COVID Travel Restrictions as Beijing Threatens ‘Countermeasures’

White House Defends COVID Travel Restrictions as Beijing Threatens ‘Countermeasures’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily news briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on Oct. 19, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Andrew Thornebrooke
The White House is defending its decision to issue travel restrictions related to COVID-19 following several threats from China’s communist regime.

The Biden administration said there was no cause for retaliation from Beijing after its communist leadership criticized Washington’s decision to require a negative COVID-19 test from those who travel from China to the United States.

“There’s no cause for retaliation here just because countries around the world are taking prudent health measures to protect their citizens,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a Jan. 3 press conference.

“That’s what you’re seeing from us and others.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, announced that it will reopen its borders on Jan. 8. The move comes just one month after the regime abruptly terminated its zero-COVID policy in response to mass unrest, causing cases of COVID-19 to surge throughout China.

The move prompted a global outcry, and nations around the world are hurrying to put in place testing requirements for all arrivals from China.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement on Dec. 28, 2022, saying that passengers would need to present a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery before boarding a U.S.-bound flight from China. The CDC said the move was meant to “slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States during the surge in COVID-19 cases in the PRC [People’s Republic of China] given the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported from the PRC.”

The United States joins the UK, Australia, Canada, France, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Malaysia, Qatar, and other nations seeking to place stronger restrictions on arrivals from China.

A spokesperson for the CCP said that the testing requirements were “unacceptable” and vowed that the regime would “take countermeasures” against nations that issue travel restrictions on flights originating in China.

World Prepares for China’s COVID Surge

The White House defended the decision to require testing from all China-originating travelers based on the international consensus that COVID-19 is currently ravaging China’s populace.
A patient on oxygen is wheeled on a gurney into a busy emergency room at a hospital in Beijing on Jan. 2, 2023. (Getty Images)
A patient on oxygen is wheeled on a gurney into a busy emergency room at a hospital in Beijing on Jan. 2, 2023. (Getty Images)

“Again, there is no need for retaliation,” Jean-Pierre said. “This is something that all of us, other countries, are doing to make sure that we are protecting our citizens.

“This decision is based on public health and science. This is coming from our experts here. And other countries like Japan, like South Korea, the UK, France, India, Italy, and Malaysia are also taking similar public steps.”

The CCP has attempted to cover up the scale of COVID-19 infections in China and the number of deaths it’s causing among the Chinese population, which has no natural immunity following almost three years of constant lockdowns.

Leaked images of papers from a CCP conference in December 2022 revealed that Party authorities believe that as many as 248 million Chinese became infected within the first 20 days of December. Publicly, the regime claims that only 10 people died from the disease throughout the month.
A December 2022 report released by UK-based health data firm Airfinity, however, estimated that about 9,000 people in China are dying each day from COVID-19 and that the number will likely reach 25,000 deaths per day by late January.

Cumulative deaths in China since Dec. 1, 2022, have probably reached 161,000, the report said.

Speaking to the press ahead of a Jan. 3 meeting between Chinese scientists and the World Health Organization, virologist and WHO committee member Marion Koopmans said that the information Chinese authorities had presented on COVID hospitalization rates was “not very credible” and urged the regime to be more honest for the sake of China’s people.

The White House appeared to agree with that assessment, and Jean-Pierre reiterated that the WHO was demanding that the CCP release factual information about the state of COVID-19 in China.

“The World Health Organization is calling on China to release more data, which is vital ... to identify any potential variants.”

Andrew Thornebrooke is a national security correspondent for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
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