Chinese officials have announced the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for immediate use by military personnel.
According to UPI. the vaccine, Ad5-nCoV is currently being studied in clinical trials.
There is no word yet on how many of the 2.2 million Chinese military members will receive the vaccine.
Ad5-nCoV was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, and biotechnology firm CanSino Biologics.
Globally there have been over 10 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
The U.S. Department of State lowered its advisory for China on Monday, from level 4 (“Do not travel”) to level 3, urging Americans to reconsider any travel to that country. At the same time, it warned of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in China and Hong Kong.
The advisory is likely to heighten tensions between the sides that have spiked since Beijing’s imposition on Hong Kong of a strict new national security law in June that has already been met with a series of U.S. punitive actions.
The advisory warned U.S. citizens that China imposes “arbitrary detention and exit bans” to compel cooperation with investigations, pressure family members to return to China from abroad, influence civil disputes and “gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.”
It added, “U.S. citizens traveling or residing in China or Hong Kong, may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law.”
In Hong Kong, China “unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power,” the advisory said, adding that new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, possibly subjecting U.S. citizens who have publicly criticized China to a “heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing Tuesday that the U.S. should “fully respect the facts and should not engage in unwarranted political manipulation” when issuing such advisories.
“China has always protected the safety and legal rights of foreigners in China in accordance with law. China is one of the safest countries in the world,” Wang said. “Of course, foreigners in China also have an obligation to abide by Chinese laws.”
The change in China’s status comes six months into the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly eight months after the State Department issued its most severe warning, telling U.S. citizens not to travel there at all. It had first cautioned Americans on Jan. 24 not to go to Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus is thought to have originated, before expanding its advisory to all of China about a week later.
“The [People’s Republic of China] has resumed most business operations (including daycares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within the PRC,” the U.S. embassy in Beijing acknowledged in a press release Monday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not downgraded the threat level for China, keeping its advisory at its highest level, 3 (“Reconsider nonessential travel”).
But most Americans still can’t plan trips to China: U.S. citizens currently can’t obtain entry visas. In August, China relaxed border restrictions for approximately three dozen countries, but the U.S. was not on the list, the State Department said.
According to World Health Organization data, the number of new COVID-19 cases in China has remained largely flat all summer, with the highest number (276) reported on July 31. September has not seen any days with more than 35 new reported cases.
The U.S., on the other hand, saw case numbers spiking around the country for much of the summer and no day’s new case count numbered under five digits. Sept. 10, which had the lowest amount of new reported cases of any day this month, still had over 23,000.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have hit their lowest point in decades amid simmering disputes over trade, technology, Taiwan, Tibet, the South China Sea, the coronavirus pandemic and, most recently, Hong Kong. The impact of the tensions has been felt in the tit-for-tat closures of diplomatic missions as well as visa restrictions on students and journalists.
Contributing: Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2020/09/14/state-department-upgrades-china-do-not-travel-reconsider/5796959002/