China reopens its borders for a final farewell to the zero-Covid policy

China reopens its borders for a final farewell to the zero-Covid policy

China reopens its borders for a final farewell to the zero-Covid policy

Travelers began pouring into mainland China by air, land and sea on Sunday, many eager for a long-awaited reunion, as Beijing opened up borders that had been virtually closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After three years, mainland China opened sea and land crossings with Hong Kong and ended the requirement for incoming travelers to self-quarantine, dismantling a final pillar of a zero-Covid policy that had protected people. Chinese from the virus but had also cut them off from the rest. of the world.

China’s relaxation over the past month of one of the world’s toughest Covid regimes followed historic protests against a policy that included frequent testing, movement restrictions and mass lockdowns that have seriously damaged the second economy.

Long queues formed at Hong Kong International Airport for flights to mainland cities such as Beijing, Tianjin and Xiamen and some Hong Kong media estimated thousands of people were traveling.

“I’m so happy, so happy, so excited. I haven’t seen my parents for many years,” Hong Kong resident Teresa Chow said as she and dozens of other travelers prepared to cross into mainland China from the Lok checkpoint. Ma Chau in Hong Kong early Sunday.

“My parents are not in good health and I couldn’t go back to see them even when they had colon cancer, so I’m really happy to go back to see them now,” she said, adding that she planned to direct in his hometown of Ningbo City in eastern China.

Investors hope the reopening will eventually reinvigorate a $17 trillion economy that is seeing its weakest growth in nearly half a century. But the abrupt policy reversal has sparked a massive wave of infections that is overwhelming some hospitals and causing business disruption.

The opening of the border follows the Saturday start of “chun yun”, the first 40-day travel period of the Lunar New Year, which before the pandemic was the world’s largest annual migration of people returning to their hometowns for take a family vacation.

Some 2 billion people are expected to travel this season, almost double last year’s movement and recovering to 70% of 2019 levels, according to the government.

Many Chinese are also expected to start traveling abroad, a long-awaited change for tourist spots in countries like Thailand and Indonesia, although several governments – worried about the spike in Covid in China – are imposing restrictions on travelers from the country.

Travel will not quickly return to pre-pandemic levels due to factors including a shortage of international flights, analysts say.

China also resumed issuing passports and travel visas for mainland residents on Sunday, as well as ordinary visas and residence permits for foreigners. Beijing has quotas on how many people can travel between Hong Kong and China each day.

At Beijing International Airport, families and friends exchanged emotional hugs and greetings with passengers arriving from Hong Kong, Warsaw and Frankfurt at the airport’s Terminal 3, meetings in the arrivals hall that would have been impossible just a day ago due to a now canceled requirement for travelers from abroad to self-quarantine.

“I’ve been waiting for the reopening for a long time. We’re finally reconnected to the world. I’m thrilled, I can’t believe this is happening,” said a businesswoman named Shen, 55, who came from Hong Kong.

Others waiting at the airport included a group of female fans carrying long-lens cameras hoping to catch a glimpse of South Korean boy band Tempest, the first South Korean idol group to enter in China over the past three years.

“So good to see them in person!” They are much prettier and bigger than I expected,” a 19-year-old woman who gave her name to Xiny told Reuters after chasing the seven-member boyband, who came from Seoul via the Chinese city of Dalian.

“With quarantine restrictions lifted, it will be so much more convenient to fly to see them and for them to come to Beijing,” she said.

Such scenes of reunions, however, clashed with others of protests in some cities across China over the weekend, a reminder of how the economy remains under strain.

On Saturday, hundreds of Tesla owners gathered at the automaker’s showrooms and distribution centers in China to protest its decision to cut prices for the second time in three months, a move it has taken to boost sales at a time of waning demand in the world’s largest. automotive market.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *