US airlines say China is forcing them to cancel some flights


U.S. airlines say China has blocked more than a dozen recent and future flights from entering the country, which has been tightening already-strict COVID-19 travel restrictions.

China ordered the cancellations after some passengers tested positive for COVID-19 on flights that arrived in China in late December, according to industry officials.

American Airlines said Tuesday that six of its flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai in late January and early February have been canceled. United Airlines said it was forced to cancel six flights from San Francisco to Shanghai later this month. Delta Air Lines said it canceled one flight last week and another this Friday to Shanghai.

Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, said it was discussing the matter with U.S. and Chinese government officials to find ways to minimize the impact on travelers.

The Biden administration had no immediate comment.

The blocking of flights is the latest development in a dispute between the two countries over international flights and rules designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

China has been ratcheting up travel restrictions after recent outbreaks of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in early February. China limits capacity on inbound flights — currently to 75% — and requires passengers to be tested before departure and after arriving in the country.

If passengers test positive, the airline that carried them can be forced to cancel two to four flights, depending on the number of positive cases.

Last month, Delta said new requirements for cleaning planes between flights caused a plane bound for Shanghai to return to Seattle. The airline said the new rules extended the time planes would need to sit on the ground in Shanghai, and weren’t workable. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco lodged a protest over Delta’s decision.

In 2020, the Trump administration backed down from a threat to block four Chinese airlines after China agreed to let United and Delta resume limited operations that were shuttered earlier in the pandemic.

Last August, the U.S. Transportation Department limited the number of passengers on four Chinese airlines’ flights to the U.S. after China imposed similar limits on United Airlines. The U.S. said China was putting an unreasonable burden on U.S. airlines for travelers who test positive after arriving in China.

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Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.



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9 reasons to visit Chengdu when China reopens


(CNN) — While China still hasn’t announced solid plans to reopen its border to international leisure travelers, there’s no harm in starting to dream about your next visit now.

There are hundreds of worthy destinations in the country catering to all tastes. Appearing arguably at the top of that list is Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan province and the perfect jumping off point for those in search of a mix of stunning natural scenery, wildlife — it’s the panda capital of the world, of course — and some of the most incredible food on the planet.

In recent years the city has expanded its offerings, which include a number of new projects tourists will want to experience — including a flashy new international airport and several architecture marvels.

Whether you’re traveling for business or just dreaming about post-pandemic travel, here are nine reasons Chengdu should be part of your itinerary when China reopens to the world.

It’s the happiest city in China

Chengdu has been voted the happiest city in China for 12 consecutive years.

Chengdu has been voted the happiest city in China for 12 consecutive years.

Li Mengxin/Xinhua/Getty Images

If visiting a place with happy locals is a priority for you, there’s no better city to hit than Chengdu.

Chengdu has been voted the happiest city in China for 12 consecutive years by an annual survey conducted by Oriental Outlook, a Shanghai-based magazine affiliated with state news agency Xinhua.
The survey results combine big data, questionnaires, site visits and expert opinions and take into account everything from income and medical services to the standards of city living.

Chengdu’s pandas are getting a cool new home

The new Panda Pavilion at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding will open early next year.

The new Panda Pavilion at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding will open early next year.

Courtesy Atelier Ping Jiang/EID Arch

The home of Chengdu’s most adorable residents and biggest attraction — the pandas — is getting a major upgrade.

“We are extremely impressed with the natural environment of the site, surrounded by undulating hills and covered with dense green lush woods,” says Ping Jiang, the mastermind behind the Panda Pavilions and design principal of Atelier Ping Jiang / EID Arch, during an interview with CNN Travel about his visit to the site.

The cedar-clad, light-filled spaces are “inspired by the natural landscape of Chengdu’s prairies” and “an animal-friendly environment.”

The Panda Pavilions house the bears’ indoor and outdoor activity spaces and living quarters, along with staff administrative offices and supporting facilities.

“Also, the pavilions provide interactive exhibition and education spaces designated for panda research and preservation,” says Jiang.

It’s got one most beautiful bookstores in China

Chengu's stunning new Zhongsuge bookstore.

Chengu’s stunning new Zhongsuge bookstore.

Shao Feng

Shanghai-based Architecture Studio X+Living is known for building some of the most beautiful bookstores in China and their latest opening in Chengdu is no exception.

The new location in Dujiangyan, the northwestern part of Chengdu, is the second Zhongshuge bookstore in the provincial capital. The first, which opened in 2017 in central Chengdu, is modeled after terrace fields.

Inspired by Dujiangyan’s ancient irrigation system — the oldest of its kind in the world — the new whimsical bookshop features meandering floor-to-ceiling walnut bookshelves and high and low arches.

The mirrored ceiling makes the hallways look like a kaleidoscope.

“Dujiangyan is a city with flowing landscapes. The magnificent dam project and the magnificent mountains and waters have become the cultural landscape that I want to express in Zhongshuge,” X+Living’s founder and chief designer, Li Xiang, tells CNN Travel.

“I hope that the beautiful environment of the bookstore can attract more people who do not love books, and awaken their interest and memory in reading.”

There’s a spectacular new mega airport

Opened earlier in 2021, Tianfu International Airport is one of the largest new airports in China.

Opened earlier in 2021, Tianfu International Airport is one of the largest new airports in China.

VCG/Getty Images

Beginning operations in 2021, Tianfu International Airport is the largest civil airport to open as part of the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

With a total of six runways (only three have been completed as part of its first phase), the mega airport is expected to handle up to 60 million passengers per year by 2025.

Travelers can experience an array of cutting-edge technologies at Tianfu, including facial recognition software, self-check-in kiosks and AI robot concierges.

The shopping and dining options are incredible, too.

It’s a global food capital

Sweet water noodles, a Chengdu specialty.

Sweet water noodles, a Chengdu specialty.

Adobe Stock

The first-ever city to be certified as a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2010, Chengdu’s gastronomic prowess is undeniable.

Many flock to the capital city of Sichuan for the tongue-numbing spicy hotpots but the now famous mapo tofu comes from here too. The addictive dish of minced meat and diced tofu in spicy chili and fermented broad bean oil is said to have been invented in Chengdu more than a century ago.

Meanwhile, Zhong dumplings (meat dumplings in a special chili oil and sweetened soy sauce) and sweet water noodles with chili peppers and peanut crumbs are two other local dishes visitors should try.

Not into spice?

Two other must-haves include smoked duck with sweet, crispy skin and savory meat, and tofa — a silky and sweet tofu pudding with various toppings.

The arts scene is taking off

The Chengdu Biennale runs unil April 6, 2022.

The Chengdu Biennale runs unil April 6, 2022.

Chengdu Biennale

Since the founding of the Blue Roof Artistic Center in 2003, a disbanded artists’ quarter, the city has transformed into the art and culture capital of China’s southwestern region.

Some of the most internationally renowned contemporary Chinese artists, like Zhou Chunya and Zhang Xiaogang, now have studios in Chengdu.

This year, Chengdu’s art scene will get another major boost.

The 400,000-square-meter Tianfu Art Park, an art-themed urban park in central Chengdu, will open with two new museums: the Chengdu Tianfu Art Museum and the Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art.

Both operated by the Chengdu Art Academy, the Tianfu Art Museum will focus on local arts whereas the Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art will emphasize international forward-thinking work and promote the global development of Chengdu’s art scene.

Kicking off the openings of these events is the Chengdu Biennale (on from now to April 6, 2022), which takes place within the park and inside the two museums.

The city comes alive after dark

Chengdu's vibrant nightlife is one of its biggest attractions.

Chengdu’s vibrant nightlife is one of its biggest attractions.

Kiszon Pascal/Moment RF/Getty Images

But there’s more to the city’s nightlife than its famous pub crawls, live music venues and nightclubs.

The residents of Chengdu also appreciate a quiet night out at a local teahouse in an alley, sipping hot drinks and playing cards while watching Sichuan operas.

It’s a window to ancient China

The pretty Jinli Street is a 550-meter pedestrian road.

The pretty Jinli Street is a 550-meter pedestrian road.

Getty Images

Chengdu may only have been on the international radar for about a decade or two, but it’s been a prosperous city for over 2,000 years. Fun fact: It claims to be the only city in China that hasn’t changed its name for about 2,300 years.

To travel back in time to ancient China, visitors should head to Sino Ocean Taikoo Li. Smack in the heart of the city, it’s multi-use commercial and retail complex centered around the 1,400-year-old Daci Temple.

Many of the historic buildings’ grey bricks and tiled roofs have been restored while contemporary low-rise architecture naturally blends in with the surroundings.

And then there’s, Bitieshi, a beautifully restored Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) courtyard house set inside the Temple House, a boutique hotel that pays tribute to the area’s rich history.

For some classic flavors, the recently opened Jinli Ancient Street is a 550-meter pedestrian road filled with shops selling snacks.

With a history that dates back 2,000 years, it was modeled after architecture from the Qing Dynasty.

It’s also a city focused on the future

The Zaha Hadid-designed Unicorn Island.

The Zaha Hadid-designed Unicorn Island.

VCG/Getty Images

There are plans to turn Chengdu into a “Western China Science City” — namely a leading demonstration area for innovation and entrepreneurship in China, according to a government statement.

Travelers visiting the “Science City” can expect to see many examples of eco-conscious and avant-garde architecture created by some of the most renowned firms in the world.

Among these is the world’s first “Unicorn Island,” a Zaha Hadid-designed complex dedicated to incubating the country’s next high-tech unicorns — privately held start-up companies valued at over $1 billion.

There will also be a low-carbon Future Science and Technology City, created by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture and Gerkan, Marg & Partners (GMP). Part of the grand Science City plan, the high-tech city will boast an aviation academy, educational complexes, laboratories and a business center for innovative companies.
After you’ve marveled at the modern architecture, take a ride on Chengdu’s fully-automated Metro Line 9 and see stations created by J&A and Sepanta Design, or ride the futuristic glass-bottom panda sky train.

Zhongtang Air Railway, the latter, debuted back in June. The train, painted to resemble a panda, has a see-thru bottom and offers 270-degree visibility (the top is not transparent).

It’s the world’s first energy tourism air rail test line (translation: an aerial suspended rail train using lithium battery power packs for traction power), and is about 11.5 kilometers (about 7 miles) in length.

Top image credit: Philippe Lejeanvre/Moment RF/Getty Images



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China Orders COVID-19 Tests for Travel With Some Border Cities | World News


BEIJING (Reuters) – China has ordered some border cities to beef up vigilance against COVID-19 with measures such as mandatory testing for travellers, in its effort to prevent clusters caused by viruses arriving from abroad.

Since mid-October, locally-transmitted symptomatic cases have risen to more than 2,000, with several small northern towns on the borders with Russia or Mongolia, among the hardest-hit, as health resources there are sparser than in major cities.

“There have been multiple local outbreaks in China recently, all caused by viruses imported from overseas via cities with ports of entry,” the government said in a notice, citing local areas’ weaknesses in monitoring and failure to enforce measures.

People who intend to leave from border cities with overland ports of entry must show proof of negative test results within 48 hours before departure, said the notice, which excluded those from cities with ports of entry linked to Hong Kong or Macau.

Arrivals in such cities must take at least one COVID-19 test, added the notice by national authorities in charge of COVID-19 control.

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The testing measures will run until March 15 next year.

In November, authorities in Beijing urged people not to travel unnecessarily to the Chinese capital from counties with overland ports of entry.

Some cities with entry ports could have tight curbs in “buffer” areas, but less tough measures outside, Saturday’s notice said.

The measures aim to reduce disruption to livelihoods in areas dependent on cross-border trade, the national health authority said in a statement published alongside the notice.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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China Southern Airlines boosts Qatar Airways partnership | News


Qatar Airways and China Southern Airlines have signed a memorandum of understanding confirming the expansion of an existing codeshare agreement.

The deal was signed by Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, and China Southern Airlines chief executive, Han Wensheng.

It builds upon the existing agreement, itself signed by the airlines in December 2019.

As part of the collaboration, all future flights between China and Qatar will be codeshared, allowing passengers to benefit from seamless connecting flights.

The closer cooperation will also provide greater customer benefits, including increased joint lounge access and a soon-to-be confirmed enhanced frequent flyer agreement.

In addition, the two airlines agreed to support the growth of Beijing’s Daxing International Airport, into a leading international aviation hub for both passenger and cargo services.

Al Baker said: “This is the latest chapter in the story of our airline’s continued journey to provide an enhanced and seamless customer experience for passengers travelling via our two hubs of Hamad International Airport, the new Beijing Daxing International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.”





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Man detained for 9 days in China for sending meme deemed ‘insulting’ to police


The man, identified only by his surname Li, allegedly sent the meme on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, in a group exchange complaining about the local Covid-19 prevention and control measures late last month, according to authorities and state media.

Police in Qingtongxia city, in Ningxia region, posted a screenshot of Li’s text exchange on Chinese social media, but later removed the post.

State-run outlet The Paper published further details of the incident that has provoked consternation in China, with a related hashtag garnering 170 million views. Many protested Li’s punishment, arguing that use of an internet joke was hardly grounds for being detained by police.

According to The Paper, Li sent a meme showing a dog in a police hat, holding a police badge and pointing at the camera. It’s a common image that has been used widely online before, with different variations sometimes including a cat or cartoon character in the police hat.

On Saturday evening, local police received a tip from a member of the public, alleging that Li had sent an image “insulting the image of police,” according to The Paper.

China insists its zero-Covid strategy is correct. Challenging it can be dangerous

The police launched an investigation into the chat group, which had more than 330 members, according to The Paper. After finding that Li was “dissatisfied with the community prevention measures,” police summoned Li to the station, where he was questioned and eventually “confessed to the illegal fact of insulting the police.”

Police said his actions had constituted the offense of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” and gave him nine days’ detention as punishment.

The Paper praised local authorities’ efforts in containing the virus. The police are “on the front line of epidemic prevention and control to build a safety barrier for people’s lives and health,” said the article.

China grows more isolated as Asia Pacific neighbors start living with Covid-19

“However, there are some people dissatisfied with the epidemic prevention measures, and even openly insulting the police,” the article added. “For such illegal acts, Qingtongxia Police Department always insists on ‘zero tolerance’ policy and resolutely punishes them according to the law to defend the authority of law enforcement and legal dignity of the police.”

China has some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 measures, including travel restrictions, snap lockdowns and mass testing. This is in contrast to other countries in Asia, which are learning to live with the virus after rolling out mass vaccinations.

These measures, though broadly popular inside of China, have also prompted rare signs of public resistance in recent weeks as virus case numbers increase.

Two residents were detained in October for trying to climb over the fences of their locked-down gated community. And on social media, some residents have begun complaining about the toll of being locked down for extended periods of time, and the damage it has caused to local economies.



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China to hold World Cup prelims in UAE due to travel restrictions


HONG KONG, Nov 2 (Reuters) – China’s hopes of playing their upcoming home World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Australia in front of their own fans have been dashed after the matches were moved to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates due to travel restrictions.

China, who are attempting to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since their debut in 2002, have yet to play at home in the final round of Asian preliminaries for Qatar 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After negotiations with all related parties and the confirmation of the AFC, China will play against Oman and Australia on Nov. 11 and 16 respectively in Sharjah,” Xinhua quoted the Chinese Football Association as saying.

“The Chinese team will depart for Sharjah on Nov. 7.”

Li Tie’s side have been forced to play overseas in all of their matches in the current phase of qualifying due to the country’s tight pandemic travel restrictions, which severely limit arrivals into China.

The Chinese hosted their game against Japan in Doha in September, losing 1-0 to Hajime Moriyasu’s team, before defeating Vietnam 3-2 in Sharjah last month.

Li’s squad had been based in the Middle East from mid-August but returned to China after the win over Vietnam and officials had hoped to hold the upcoming qualifiers on home soil.

China are in fifth place in Group B and trail leaders Saudi Arabia by nine points after four matches.

The top two from the group qualify automatically for the World Cup while the third-place finishers enter a series of playoffs.

Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Australia to formally recognise more international vaccines from India, China


More vaccines used overseas but not in Australia have been formally recognised by the national medical regulator, paving the way for international visitors in the coming months.

Before now, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had recommended that only the vaccines approved for use in Australia plus Covishield from India and Sinovac from China be recognised for the purposes of travel and other restrictions.

It has now added two more to the list — Covaxin, manufactured in India and Sinopharm, which is made in China.

“This recognition is for travellers aged 12 and over who have been vaccinated with Covaxin, and those 18 to 60 who have been vaccinated with BBIBP-CorV,” the TGA said in a statement.

“Importantly, recognition of Covaxin … along with the previously announced recognition of Coronavac (manufactured by Sinovac, China) and Covishield (manufactured by AstraZeneca, India), means many citizens of China and India, as well as other countries in our region where these vaccines have been widely deployed, will now be considered fully vaccinated on entry to Australia.”

The decision will help facilitate the return of international students who have received different vaccines to the ones widely used in Australia.

“This will have significant impacts for the return of international students, and travel of skilled and unskilled workers to Australia,” the TGA said.

Four vaccines have been approved by the TGA — Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (now known as Vaxzevria) and Johnson and Johnson.

The TGA has previously said it did not have enough evidence to recommend Russia’s Sputnik or China’s CanSino vaccines also be reocgnised in Australia.

More to come.



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