Monday, August 14, 2023

US to Increase Flights to and From China

US to Increase Flights to and From China 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Friday that the number of weekly flights between the United States and China will double by the end of October, in part to accommodate international students.

In May, the Biden administration was allowing 12 weekly flights from China to the United States, up from eight.

This will increase to 18 weekly round-trip flights beginning in September "to meet an anticipated increase in demand around the start of the academic year," the DOT said.

The number of weekly flights will increase to 24 the week of Oct. 29. Weekly American flights to China will double as well.

However, it is far lower than the weekly 150-plus trips between the countries before pandemic travel restrictions were placed in 2020.

This came as China lifted pandemic-era restrictions on group tours just a day ago, to countries including the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Air China filed with the DOT that same day permission to add a new weekly flight between Beijing and Los Angeles.

China Eastern, Xiamen Airlines, and China Southern also fly scheduled service to the United States. United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines currently operate passenger flights to China.

United will increase its number of flights between the countries, resuming flights to Beijing and daily flights to Shanghai.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said it was a positive development and opportunity for "U.S. airlines to compete in the marketplace."

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said the move was a sign of increased cooperation between the states.

"Direct flights are essential for increasing mutual visits between Chinese and American peoples. We hope that the restoration of more flights will do good to the flow of people and trade between the two countries."

Blinken's Trip to China

Mid-June, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a visit to China amid strained U.S-China relations with three goals. Mr. Blinken meant to establish open communication channels that allowed for competition without conflict, speak out for U.S. values and interests, and discuss regional and global security matters and cooperation.

He noted after the two-day trip that he had a "robust conversation" with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other top diplomats in Beijing. The meeting with Mr. Xi lasted only 35 minutes, but he also spoke with then-Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who was recently replaced, and the regime's top diplomat Wang Yi.

Mr. Blinken was the most senior U.S. official to travel to China since President Joe Biden took office, and the first secretary of state to visit China since October 2018.

“I came to Beijing to strengthen high-level challenges of communication, to make clear our positions and intentions in areas of disagreement, and to explore areas where we might work together when our interests align on shared transnational challenges. And we did all of that,” Blinken said at a press conference after the meeting with Xi. They spoke about the Russia–Ukraine war, the Chinese Communist Party's provocation in the Taiwan Strait and South and East China Seas, and human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.

Mr. Blinken also told reporters that both sides wanted to raise issues on economic policies, including China's unfair treatment of U.S. companies.

At the time, some analysts warned the trip would only bolster the CCP's image.

"If its relationship with the United States continues to decline or comes to the point of conflict, foreign investors will accelerate the pace of pulling money out of China, which will make its already shaky economy more fragile," China affairs commentator Li Linyi told The Epoch Times on June 19.

The DOT said the increased travel between the two countries was thanks to the communications that Mr. Blinken began, which "made this important step possible."

"Our overriding goal is an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties are able to exercise fully their bilateral rights to maintain a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers," DOT said in its approval order on Friday.

US–China Relationship

On Tuesday, President Biden signed an executive order to restrict U.S. investments in China in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum technology, and semiconductors, declaring a national emergency.

On Thursday, President Biden called China's economy a "ticking time bomb" on Thursday, drawing ire from Chinese authorities who quickly commented via state-run media that U.S. officials and media were badmouthing a competitor.

President Biden has brushed off questions and comments that his characterization of Beijing is adversely impacting U.S.–China affairs. After Mr. Blinken's visit, Chinese leadership welcomes two other senior administration officials, and media reports indicate a possible visit from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Chinese officials have, however, said they reserved the right to take countermeasures against the recent executive order restricting investment. Indeed, analysts have said such a move could successfully impede China's rise in power.

In June, during Mr. Blinken's trip, China expert Feng Chongyi, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney, described China's relationship with the United States as "parasitic."

When Mr. Xi took leadership of the country, he revealed ambitions to have China grow its military and economic power, and take on the free world, Mr. Feng told The Epoch Times, and he needs the United States to do that. Relying on American technology and dollars,  and even agriculture, China has gained a foothold on the world's stage. As the United States generally tends to "gradually decouple" from such risky relationships, Mr. Feng warned that the slow disengagement was akin to "playing with fire." China has already announced its intentions to become self-reliant in areas like food security.

"[The CCP] still wants to continue to parasitize the capital market. It's like this virus that cannot survive without its host or capital," Mr. Feng said.

Reuters contributed to this report

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