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US, China to Boost Number of Flights Between Their Countries

There were about 350 flights a week between the US and China prior to the coronavirus, compared to 24 a week currently, a top US official said on Wednesday

US and Chinese officials have agreed to boost the number of flights between the two countries, which dropped dramatically during the Covid crisis.
Staff in protective suits are seen at Beijing airport ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics (Reuters file photo).


The US and China have agreed to look at increasing the number of commercial flights between the two countries.

The move will help boost people-to-people contact, Daniel Kritenbrink, the top US diplomat for East Asia said on Wednesday.

Kritenbrink told a Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank event in Washington that the countries agreed “to look at increasing in a phased manner the number of commercial flights between the United States and China.”

There were about 350 flights a week between the US and China prior to the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 24 a week currently, Kritenbrink said, adding “I think we can do better.”

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He said the agreement was reached during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China earlier this month.

During the trip, Washington and Beijing failed to produce any major breakthrough in their rivalry but agreed to stabilize relations. Soon after Blinken’s trip, US President Joe Biden referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator.

After the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the two countries restricted flights and travel to prevent the spread of the disease, and air service has not been fully restored.

Kritenbrink said he wanted to see an imbalance reversed in the number of Chinese students in the United States and American students in China, which he put at 300,000 Chinese students to 350 US students.

During Wednesday’s event, Kritenbrink described China’s actions in the South China Sea as coercive.


Sherman talks to ambassador

Meanwhile, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held a call with China’s ambassador to the US on Tuesday to follow up on issues discussed during Blinken’s visit to Beijing last week, the State Department said.

In the call with Chinese Ambassador Xie Feng, Sherman reiterated the importance of maintaining open channels of communication across the full range of issues, the department said.

“This was a substantive call. It was to follow up on the secretary’s visit,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a regular news briefing.

Blinken held meetings with Chinese officials including President Xi Jinping, but did not reach an agreement on re-establishing high-level defence dialogue.

“There are a number of conversations that are happening at the sub-Cabinet level now about following up on some of the issues that the secretary discussed,” Miller added.

US and Chinese officials have had discussions since Blinken’s visit about when a proposed visit to Washington by Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang might occur, but the visit had not been scheduled yet, Miller said.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard


NOTE: Further details were added to this report on June 29, 2023.




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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