In a marked change of sentiment, China has vowed to strengthen efforts to open international travel, by resuming and increasing passenger flights in an orderly way and by steadily improving visa and Covid testing policies.

China will make Covid control measures more targeted and well-calibrated under the premise of ensuring safety against Covid infections, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said. This is the first time an official from the top Chinese leadership has commented on relaxation of international travel.

He said the country would also look to facilitate cross-border travel for labor services in a prudent and orderly manner. “All international students may return to China to continue their studies should they wish so,” Keqiang added.

According to China’s education ministry, until the end of 2018, at least 492,185 international students from 196 countries and regions were studying in China. International students have repeatedly petitioned the Chinese government to lift the nearly two-year ban on their return. From June onwards, China has been gradually allowing students from some Asian nations to return.

Amid anger over the fallout from China’s commitment to zero-Covid policy, Keqiang, a trained economist, had recently urged local government officials to immediately take action to stabilise the situation.

Promoting stable growth of the world economy is a common and urgent task for all, the Chinese premier said while speaking at the World Economic Forum’s special virtual dialogue.

On the state of the Chinese economy, he noted that in the second quarter this year, under the impacts from a new round of Covid flare-ups and other factors beyond expectation, downward economic pressure rose steeply, and major indicators tumbled in April. In May, the decline in major economic indicators slowed. In June, the economy stabilized and rebounded.

“That said, we are keenly aware that recovery of the economy is not yet firmly established, and painstaking efforts are required to keep overall economic performance stable,” he added.

Highlighting China’s development potential, he said, the country would effectively coordinate Covid-19 response and economic and social development.

“We will continue to take development as the basis of and key to overcoming all challenges China faces, and work hard to bring the economy back to a normal track as soon as possible,” he added.

Tags: asia monthly, china, Chinese travelers, coronavirus recovery, reopening, students, zero covid policy