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China to Ease Border Controls with Other Countries
Views:9182 Time:5/9/2020 9:34:08 AM

China’s travel curbs are among the strictest world-wide, imposed to halt the reintroduction of the coronavirus.


With China signalling initial success in containing its domestic contagion, officials have in recent weeks proposed efforts to facilitate essential travel with foreign counterparts from more than a dozen countries, diplomats said. 


  To facilitate essential travel      



Chinese officials have raised the idea—in formal and informal settings—with counterparts from Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia, among other governments.


South Korea and Singapore have formally agreed to discuss ways to facilitate essential travel with China, according to government statements.


Beijing has also reached out to some European countries about allowing some travel necessary for sustaining supply chains, some diplomats said. 


 To streamline health measures 



The proposal to ease some of those controls comes as China steps up efforts to restore economic activity and repair global supply chains that have been hobbled by mass quarantines and border closures. 


One possibility is to have participating governments recognize the results of each other’s coronavirus tests, so that prospective travelers could be tested before they depart—rather than after arrival—and be spared mandatory quarantine measures at the destination country, allowing them to start conducting business immediately, according to the diplomats.


  With South Korea & Singapore 




China has started discussions with South Korea and Singapore on how to facilitate essential travel, though it isn’t clear when such measures could be implemented.


On a Friday video-conference call, senior Chinese and South Korean diplomats agreed to establish a “fast-track lane” for essential travel—including business and technical personnel—between the two countries, according to statements from both foreign ministries.


On a separate call Friday with Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, South Korean Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said Seoul hopes Beijing would allow business people—particularly those from small and midsize enterprises—to make “urgent business trips” to China, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.


Earlier this month, China and Singapore agreed to “discuss the provision of convenient access to the flow of necessary personnel,” as well as safeguard trade flows and the “integrity of supply chains,” according to a joint statement from the two countries’ foreign ministries.


  Loud and clear signs to relax controls  



Timing would depend on how the pandemic evolves within each country, people familiar with the discussions said. Many specifics have yet to be decided, such as what types of personnel would be allowed to travel, which geographic areas they could visit, as well as when such arrangements could begin.


But signs showing China is looking to relax some of the controls are loud and clear as the measures used to curb the pandemic place a huge economic strain on nations worldwide.


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