China Asks Biden to Lift Travel Ban, But Only to Vaccinated People

Passenger wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk out from the Beijing railway station as they arrive in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. China is now dealing with coronavirus outbreaks across its frigid northeast, prompting additional lockdowns and travel bans. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
AP Photo/Andy Wong

A top official China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged President Joe Biden to open America’s borders to China, but only after “recognizing” China’s faulty coronavirus vaccine candidates and making it illegal to travel without being vaccinated.

Wu Zunyou, a top epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, suggested that lifting travel restrictions should occur once Beijing and Washington “mutually recognize vaccinations” and after America reaches “herd immunity” which he predicted would occur in August or September 2021. The Global Times, the state publication to which he made those statements, did not clarify if Wu interpreted vaccine “recognition” as simply identifying someone receiving a Chinese vaccine candidate as properly protected from the Chinese coronavirus or if he sought approval for distribution of Chinese vaccines by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

China has approved two homemade vaccines against the Chinese coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China. Clinical trials found the first vaccine, known as “Coronavac” and manufactured by the firm Sinovac, to be only 50.38 percent effective against Chinese coronavirus, which the Global Times declared “good enough.” The second vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, received approval late last month in China and was found to be 72.51 percent effective.

In contrast, the top two vaccines approved in the United States are both significantly more effective. The first approved vaccine, by the firm Pfizer, is about 95 percent effective. The second, by Moderna, tested to 94.1 percent effectiveness.

This week, the FDA approved a third American vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, found to be 66 percent effective.

Chinese state media has repeatedly attacked the Pfizer option, the most effective one so far approved, while Beijing has secured at least one shipment of 100 million doses.

Wu, the Chinese epidemiologist, told the Global Times on Tuesday “China and the U.S. should mutually recognize vaccinations in the other country and limit free travel to only those who have been vaccinated.”

Wu claimed, speaking at a forum, “China is the safest country in the world in terms of COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] prevention,” citing Communist Party statistics that have been questioned in several studies for over a year.

“If that is the case and if we could remove all political barriers, just based on science, the two countries could possibly be the first two countries to lift travel restrictions with each other,” Wu claimed, a false statement given that India has lifted restrictions with several countries through a “bubble” system similar to what Wu is proposing for America and China.

Also present at the forum Wu spoke in – hosted by dictator Xi Jinping’s alma mater, Tsinghua University, and the Brookings Institute – was disgraced former head of the American CDC, Thomas Frieden, who proposed sharing intellectual property on vaccines and medications for coronavirus with China.

The Chinese Communist Party is the world’s largest intellectual property thief. Prior to the pandemic, one in five American companies said in a nationwide survey that they had had intellectual property stolen from them by Chinese agents.

“Frieden proposed that both countries share intellectual property and techniques in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing to jointly expand global vaccination, so that manufacturers and other parts of the world can benefit from what really should be a public good,” the Global Times reported.

Frieden ran the CDC during history’s largest Ebola outbreak; under his tenure, the administration of President Barack Obama received heavy criticism for its poor handling of both offering aid to the affected countries and insufficiently limiting travel to the United States to prevent the spread of the disease. Following his tenure, Frieden was arrested in 2018 on charges of sexual abuse, which he pled guilty to.

China’s proposal of mandating coronavirus vaccines to travel echoes a demand late last year by Chinese dictator Xi Jinping that the world implement a system in which all individuals are assigned a QR code to track their health status. The system, he suggested, would grade individuals based on their health history and ban them from certain travel if their governments deemed them too ill.

“We need to further harmonise policies and standards and establish ‘fast tracks’ to facilitate the orderly flow of people,” Xi urged. “[We] hope more countries would participate.”

Chinese citizens are subject to extreme travel restrictions, both at home and abroad. Chinese citizens’ ability to travel and move to different cities nationwide is limited by their hukou, a registration system designed to keep poor and rural Chinese from living near the Communist Party elite. Their behavior generally is limited by China’s “social credit system,” which gives each individual a numerical score based on their loyalty to the Communist Party. Individuals with low “social credit” scores cannot board public transportation, trains, or flights.

President Donald Trump limited travel between the United States as China on January 21, 2020, shortly after news began circulating of a contagious respiratory disease in Wuhan. Current President Joe Biden enthusiastically opposed the ban, calling it “hysterical xenophobia.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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