After abandoning its zero covid policy, China begins its reopening to world

From January 8, 2023, people entering the country will no longer have to submit to multiple tests or undergo some quarantine, as has been the case since March 2020.

By Frédéric Lemaître (Beijing, correspondent)

“Chérie, end of the nightmare from January 8. No more procedure with the China consulate and quarantine at the entrance to the country. A PCR test within 48 hours [before] the start is enough”. This private message, posted by mistake on December 27 in a WeChat group of French expatriates in China, sums up the situation perfectly.

After having, on December 7, de facto end, at its zero covid policy inside the country, leaving the Chinese again circulating without prior PCR test, Beijing announced, Monday, December 26, the corollary of This decision: the end, from January 8, 2023, of the multiple tests as well as the quarantine imposed on the people entering the country. A measure which was long claimed by the international community, in particular by the business circles, but also, more discreetly, by the tens of millions of Chinese living abroad.

Since March 27, 2020, China has no longer issued any tourist visa and has canceled up to 98 % of international flights. The rare people authorized to enter the country were subject to around forty of three weeks, gradually reduced to two weeks, then currently at eight days – five in a hotel requisitioned by the authorities and three at home. Above all, until November, China sanctioned foreign airlines as soon as positive cases were detected when passengers arrive.

As, in retaliation, other states – including France – canceled so many flights chartered by Chinese companies so as not to leave them the monopoly of traffic between the two countries, China has been, since March 2020 , almost cut off from the world, and the price of rare tickets was prohibitive.

Even if it will undoubtedly have to wait several months to find out a return to normal, on January 8, 2023 therefore marks a decisive step for the reopening of China to the world. Likewise, foreign leaders will be able to go to Beijing again without being confined to a health bubble, as was the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the president of the European Council Charles Michel in recent weeks.

The virus spreads like a trail of powder

In addition to this reopening that many Chinese are welcomed on social networks, the National Health Commission indicated that it no longer considered COVID-19 as a “pneumonia” but as a “contagious” disease less dangerous .

A few hours earlier, Monday, Xi Jinping had released a press release on the occasion of the 70 anniversary of the “Patriotic Movement for Hygiene”. This is the first time that the Chinese president has been expressed since the announcements of December 7 and the current outbreak of COVID-19 which, for three weeks, has undergone the hospital system.

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/Media reports cited above.