The Reuters bureau in China has announced that all traveling Chinese will be required to book flights on Chinese airlines. This comes as a surprise given the positive image that China is portrayed as in the western media. There are many other flights that travel to and from the US that do not have the entry ban. Many of these flights have already offered discounts and early bookings to those looking to take advantage of the new policy.
The Chinese government notified all Chinese citizens traveling abroad that they would need to book flights on state-owned airlines and domestic flights operated by local airline companies. This new regulation affects all travelers, not just Chinese citizens. Some of the most popular and widely used domestic airlines in the country are Sichuan Airlines, Kaikoura Airlines, Beijing Capital International Airlines, and Cebu Pacific Airlines. The move will effectively ban all passengers from travelling to and from China by using these airlines.
The reasons for this new measure are not clear. The Reuters bureau in China quotes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that the new measure is in line with the international law on travel to China and is an attempt to uphold the legal rights of Chinese citizens who want to travel abroad. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not provide further details. When I attempted to access the Reuters bureau’s website, however, it was inaccessible without a paid subscription.
There are several reasons that the Reuters bureau has imposed an entry ban on flights to China. Two of the main reasons cited by the ministry include a lack of reports by foreign inspectors on abuses in China and the risk of tourists traveling to the country without adequate protection. In June 2021, the Kolkata-based Oriental Pearl International Travel Company was suspended for violating China’s aviation law. According to the Kolkata Economic Times, the company had booked flights to six cities in China that are regularly monitored by the Chinese authorities. The company later returned all tickets but was barred from traveling to Kolkata again.
A similar incident happened in June when the Beijing Capital International Airport announced that it was banning all flights to and from China’s capital. The reason given was that there had been no reports of Chinese officials doing anything inappropriate. This caused a flurry of cancellations and prompted many more travel companies to scrap plans to fly to China. No flights were scheduled to resume until the state-owned airline began operating flights to Beijing again.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It is unclear why the ministry suddenly imposed an entry ban on citizens of the PRC. A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Transport of south Korea imposed a similar ban on citizens of China traveling to and from Korea. This time, the move came after a cargo ship carrying some hazardous chemicals was seized by the Korean coast guard.
The U.S. State Department called for an immediate stop to all travel to China. On February 7, the ministry of transport said that it was examining reports of the illicit activities of a Taiwanese ship that docked at Foshan port. The investigation into this dockside vessel, which has docked at various ports in the past six months, has resulted in the seizure of nearly forty thousand tons of drugs and other dangerous materials.
The Chinese government has not yet issued any travel advisories or travel bans. It is widely believed that these advisories are only issued to keep citizens alert. If there is an emergency situation, there is no way for the Chinese government to quickly respond to help citizens reach their destinations. Only the Chinese consulate in Hong Kong has the authority to request that a foreign national be banned from entering the country. The Chinese government did not issue an entry ban on traveling to China as of yet.