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Airline dispute: China steps back after Trump retaliates

Washington: Beijing announced its decision to allow American airlines to operate limited flights to the country after Washington said it would bar Chinese airlines from flying into the US from June 16.

The airlines dispute came amid rising tensions on many fronts, from health to diplomacy, between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the two sides had been in close communication on the subject of air travel.

“Now China has announced the policy adjustment,” he said at a press conference. “We hope the US will not create obstacles for resolving this issue,” the BBC quoted Zhao as saying.

On the 31st anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Thursday, Trump fired another salvo at China accusing it of endangering US investors by refusing to have its companies listed in the US stock markets comply with US investor protection provisions.

In an action directed against Chinese companies, NASDAQ announced last month that auditing firms would have to ensure all listed companies comply with international reporting and inspection standards.

As a face-saving measure to avoid giving the impression it was caving in to US pressure, China extended the new airline regulation to all foreign carriers.

Beijing had said that only those airlines that were flying to China on March 12 could resume flights to that country starting June 8.

US airlines suspended flights to and from China soon after when Trump announced on January 31 ban on non-Americans entering the US from China because of the COVID-19 making them ineligible to resume flights.

Under the relaxation starting June 8, the US and other non-Chinese airlines will be allowed to run one flight per week to one Chinese city, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said.

Only Delta has reportedly expressed interest in starting flights to China soon.

American Airlines said in an email that it planned to restart flights to Shanghai and Beijing only in October.

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