China to allow limited U.S passenger flights

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China on Thursday said foreign airlines blocked from operating in the country over virus fears would be allowed to resume limited flights, lifting a de facto ban on US carriers, Agence France-Presse reports. This comes a day after Washington ordered the suspension of all Chinese travel into and out of the US.

The apparent decision to step back by Beijing follows rising tensions between the world’s two superpowers over a series of issues including Donald Trump’s accusations over China’s handling of the pandemic, Hong Kong and Huawei.

The latest spat was rooted in the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) deciding to impose a limit on foreign airlines based on their activity as of March 12. Because US carriers had suspended all flights by that date their cap was set at zero, while Chinese carriers’ flights to the US continued.

On Wednesday the US said it would block Chinese passenger flights from June 16, raising concerns of another front being opened up in the standoff between the two countries.

But the CAAC on Thursday said all foreign airlines not listed in the March 12 schedule would now be able to operate one international route into China each week.

Restrictions on entry to both the US and China remain in place.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have become increasingly strained in recent months after Trump accused China of causing the virus intentionally, while a plan to impose a strict security law on Hong Kong has increased tensions substantially.