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The 24 weekly commercial flights between the U.S. and China, compared to an estimated 350 flights before the pandemic, speak volumes about the relations between the two countries.

The United States and China agreed to consider expanding commercial flights between the two countries to improve people-to-people contact, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, said on Wednesday.

He told a Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank event in Washington that the countries agreed “to look at increasing in a phased manner the number of commercial flights between the United States and China.”

There were about 350 flights a week between the U.S. and China prior to the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 24 a week currently, Kritenbrink said.

“I think we can do better,” he added.

He said the agreement was reached during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China earlier this month. During the trip, Washington and Beijing failed to produce any major breakthrough in their rivalry but agreed to stabilize relations. Soon after Blinken’s trip, U.S. President Joe Biden referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator.

After the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the two countries restricted flights and travel to prevent the spread of the disease, and air service has not been fully restored.

Kritenbrink said he wanted to see an imbalance reversed in the number of Chinese students in the United States and American students in China, which he put at 300,000 Chinese students to 350 U.S. students.

During Wednesday’s event, Kritenbrink described China’s actions in the South China Sea as coercive.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh, David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

This article was written by Kanishka Singh from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


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Tags: aviation, china, covid-19, flights, tourism

Photo credit: Beijing Capital International Airport ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Source: Reuters.

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