February 14, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Fighting Outbreak, China Urged Open Borders. Even Allies Are Resisting.

In Beijing and elsewhere, Chinese diplomats have pitched the crisis as a test of friendship, calling on foreign governments not to suspend travel links with China or to evacuate their citizens—measures Beijing decries as unnecessary, fear-inducing and unfriendly.

“True friendship emerges in times of adversity,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has repeated in recent weeks.

It generally hasn’t worked. Three of the biggest U.S. airlines— American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines—have suspended passenger flights between the two countries, as have the national carriers of France, Britain, Egypt, Qatar and Vietnam, among others. More than a dozen countries have slapped entry restrictions on Chinese nationals or people who have recently been in China. . . .

Despite Beijing’s pleas, a number of countries—including governments that China counts as close partners—have put domestic concerns first.

North Korea, whose isolated government counts Beijing as a vital ally, was the first country to seal its border with China in January. Russia, another friend, closed land crossings with China and suspended visa-free travel between the two countries.

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