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Beijing’s U.S. envoy expects further COVID relaxation, easier travel to China

A worker in a protective suit stands at a food shop, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China, December 12, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song

China’s ambassador to the United States on Monday said he believes China’s COVID-19 measures will be further relaxed in the near future and international travel to the country will become easier.

Ambassador Qin Gang told an event staged by the Semafor news platform that China's government was taking a very responsible attitude to protect people from the threat of COVID-19, and said his country's policy had always been "dynamic, not rigid."

"Now the measures are being relaxed, and in the near future, I believe that the measures will be further relaxed and international travel will become easier ... from all the directions to China."

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for the nucleic acid test, after the government eased curbs on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) control, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China December 10, 2022. REUTERS/Martin Pollard/File Photo

Three years into the pandemic, China is acting to align with a world that has largely reopened to live with COVID, after unprecedented protests in China that became a de-facto referendum against a "zero-COVID" policy championed by President Xi Jinping.

China has all but shut its borders to international travel for nearly three years. International flights remain still at a fraction of pre-pandemic levels and arrivals face eight days in quarantine.

Analysts have been forecasting a reopening in March or April.

Beijing has dropped mandatory testing prior to many public activities, reined in quarantine, and by early Tuesday will have deactivated a state-mandated mobile app used to track the travel histories of a population of 1.4 billion people.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina; Editing by Mark Porter and Leslie Adler)

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