While China’s borders are still largely closed to nonnationals, new developments hint towards a continued gradual reopening.
On Wednesday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it will adjust its current flight policy to grant ‘green channels’ to chartered flights for countries in Asia and Europe. The benefit of the green channel is to shorten the application period of chartered flights down to three days. (The application period was seven days previously.)
According to state-run newspaper Global Times, eight countries have been added to the list, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. The US, which recently surpassed 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths, has been excluded from the list.
The new policy aims to make it easier to organize chartered flights, which have been increasing in recent weeks. Germany, South Korea and Japan have organized chartered flights to China as businesses resume full operations.
On Wednesday, 136 Japanese nationals flew to Wuhan to return to work – many employed by auto manufacturers Honda and Nissan.
While China’s ‘Five-Ones’ policy is still in effect, this policy adjustment is a way to meet market demand. At the end of March, the Five Ones airline ticket policy was announced, which limits international flights into China – allowing only one flight from one airline via one route once per week per country. Not great. Earlier this week, the CAAC announced that it would extend the strict policy until at least October 2020. However, CAAC Deputy Head Li Jian said China may increase the number of flights if imported COVID-19 cases are effectively controlled, as cited by GT.
On Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the importance of reopening borders, saying no country can continue to develop with its door closed to the world. Li noted that the PRC will introduce more opening-up measures, and is prepared to increase imports.
[Cover image via Unsplash]