China slams countries that ban Chinese travellers, says travel restrictions an 'overreaction'

The WHO has opposed moves that restrict Chinese travellers' access.

Kayla Wong | February 02, 2020, 09:29 AM

Beijing has hit back at countries which have placed travel restrictions on Chinese travellers, saying such measures go against the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations.

Veiled criticism

A Saturday, Feb. 1 tweet posted by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on its official Twitter account noted the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's remarks that a "certain country has turned a blind eye to WHO recommendations" by imposing "sweeping travel restrictions against China".

The tweet further said such travel restrictions are "not the right way to deal with the pandemic" as they are a sort of "overreaction" that could "make things even worse".

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted that the United States, the European Union, Russia, Australia and Singapore have banned or restricted the entry of Chinese citizens, and any foreigners that have recently visited China.

Other countries that have placed travel restrictions on visitors from China include Mongolia, Malaysia (residents from Hubei), the Philippines (residents from Hubei), and Japan (residents from Hubei).

Chinese state media has also criticised countries that placed travel restrictions on China, with a CGTN article citing Wang's comments as saying that China "opposes certain countries' actions that are creating tension and panic".

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WHO: Travel restrictions not necessary

While the WHO has declared the novel coronavirus a global public health emergency on Thursday, Jan. 30, it has yet to issue any advisory against travel to China.

The international organisation has also opposed any move to close borders with China or restrict Chinese travellers’ access, SCMP reported.

China, on the other hand, has banned all outbound group travel from Jan. 27, and placed 16 cities under lockdown indefinitely in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

In response to China's MFA tweet, former Mexican Ambassador to the China (2007-2013) Jorge Guajardo said that China, against WHO's recommendation, placed all Mexican nationals in China under quarantine and cancelled direct flights to Mexico during the swine flu epidemic. 

He later added, however, that the US' reaction to the coronavirus outbreak by imposing travel restrictions on travellers who recently visited China was as bad as the Chinese government's reaction.

Thanked some countries for their support to China

In yet another tweet a couple of hours later, the Chinese MFA thanked a number of countries, such as France, Germany, and Malaysia, saying that they have provided "assistance and support to China".

The tweet did not provide additional details as to how these countries helped China out.

Thanked Russia & Malaysia

The post also mentioned Russia as one of the countries that supported China, despite Russia closing its land border with China to most passenger travel, and limiting visa issuance to Chinese citizens.

China also thanked Malaysia despite the local government of Sabah and Sarawak restricting travel of Chinese citizens into East Malaysia.

Top image via Sina