The US government has criticized China for its decision to impose a growing number of flight suspensions on US airlines, prompting Chinese state media to hit back at “baseless” claims.
The verbal spat between the two countries – the second in nearly half a year – follows the decision by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to suspend six more flights between the US and China as part of its “circuit breaker”. ‘-scheme.
The CAAC said on Jan. 12 it would suspend two United Airlines flights between San Francisco and Shanghai Pudong, as well as four China Southern Airlines flights between Los Angeles and Guangzhou.
Other airlines that have to suspend flights between the two countries include Delta Airlines and American Airlines.
CAAC regulations – imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus – state that airlines carrying coronavirus-positive passengers must suspend their operations for a period of time.
If an airline is found to have repeatedly violated the regulation, the CAAC may impose longer suspensions.
China remains one of the few countries to remain committed to a zero infection strategy, a move that has led to tightly closed international borders.
The United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) called Beijing’s move “inconsistent with obligations under the US-China air transport agreement,” warning in a statement to Reuters that it could take “regulatory action” in retaliation.
Hours after statement from US DOT, Chinese state-run news channel Global times conducted a damning opinion in defense of CAAC’s measures.
The piece calls the US DOT’s statement “baseless,” citing unnamed “industry insiders” — and says countries should “prioritize COVID-19 prevention in the face of the pandemic.”
The article further claims that the statement was “Washington’s attempt to intensify criticism of China’s Covid-19 prevention policies, as the West launched another torrent of defamation over China’s dynamic zero-covid policy ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.” ”.
China and the US first discussed flight cancellations last August, again discussing “circuit breaker” measures, which were “unilaterally imposed” according to the US DOT.
In a tit-for-tat, the US DOT imposed a 40% capacity cap on Chinese airlines flying to the US after the CAAC imposed a similar restriction on United Airlines flights to China.