The US is considering imposing new Covid restrictions on Chinese arrivals, after Beijing announced it would reopen its borders next month, media reports said.
American officials say this is due to a lack of transparency surrounding the virus in China, as cases surge, the BBC reported.
Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan – worried at importing Covid cases – have already outlined tighter measures for Chinese travellers, including negative tests.
Beijing has said Covid rules should be brought in on a “scientific” basis.
India is also stepping up measures for Chinese arrivals, but this was announced before Beijing said it would relax its strict border policy.
Passport applications for Chinese citizens wishing to travel internationally will resume from January 8, the country’s immigration authorities have said.
Travel sites have reported a spike in traffic, leaving some countries fearful over the potential spread of Covid, BBC reported.
Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, subsequently accused Western countries and media of “hyping up” and “distorting China’s Covid policy adjustments”.
He said China believed all countries’ Covid responses should be “science-based and proportionate”, and should “not affect normal people-to-people exchange”.
Wang called for “joint efforts to ensure safe cross-border travel, maintain stability of global industrial supply chains and promote economic recovery and growth”, BBC reported.
The true toll of daily cases and deaths in China is unknown because officials have stopped releasing this data. Reports say hospitals are overwhelmed and elderly people are dying.
Last week, Beijing reported about 4,000 new Covid infections each day and few deaths.
Before the relaxation of travel rules, people were strongly discouraged from travelling abroad. The sale of outbound group and package travel was banned, according to marketing solutions company Dragon Trail International.
Within half an hour of Monday’s notice that China’s borders would reopen, data from travel site Trip.com – cited in Chinese media – showed searches for popular destinations had increased ten-fold on last year, BBC reported.
Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea were the most popular destinations.