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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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China threatens to retaliate against US over Hong Kong

Beijing: China has threatened to retaliate against the US after President Donald Trump said he will no longer extend trading privileges to Hong Kong over Beijing’s bid to exercise tighter control over the former British colony.

Last week, Trump ordered his government to begin the process of eliminating the city’s special status and condemned a controversial security law proposed by Beijing, reports Efe news.

China’s legislature approved a national security law seen as aimed at reducing the autonomy Hong Kong has enjoyed since rejoining the mainland in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” formula.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference that China was “firmly opposed” to the US move.

“The announced measures severely interfere with China’s internal affairs, damage US-China relations, and will harm both sides,” he added.

He reiterated that “Hong Kong is part of China” and warned that “any words or actions by the US that harm China’s interests will meet with China’s firm counterattack”.

The controversial security law aims to ban any act of subversion against the central Chinese government in Hong Kong and to eradicate any loophole of “foreign interference” in the city.

It has been criticized by lawyers and activists who have warned that the legislation could curtail the freedoms enjoyed by the semi-autonomous city.

The legislation has already sparked protests in the city, as well as against another law that could criminalize insults to the Chinese anthem.

The Hong Kong government supports the law, while Beijing has previously warned that it will retaliate if the US adopts any form of sanction.

Trump’s order seeks to hit both the city, which is an important international financial and commercial center, and China, which uses the territory to negotiate with other countries.

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