China easing rules for US business travellers; approvals in 10 days

China will reduce the time needed for approval of travel by US business executives to no more than 10 days, said Mr Qin Gang. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - China will cut to no more than 10 days the time required for approval of travel by US business executives, its ambassador to the United States said on Thursday (Dec 2), promising to turn "an attentive ear" to concerns raised by businesses.

Mr Qin Gang, who arrived in the United States in July, told a dinner hosted by the US-China Business Council that Beijing would also work to make Covid-19 testing more convenient and allow executives to work during quarantine.

Mr Qin said Beijing was adopting Chinese President Xi Jinping's direction on upgrading "fast track" arrangements for travel, a response to US concerns about resumption of business travel announced after Mr Xi met US President Joe Biden last month.

"With the upgraded arrangement, the time needed for travel approval will be shorter, no more than 10 working days," he said.

Mr Qin said Beijing would share its specific workplan very soon with the US Centres for Disease Control.

He said Beijing was committed to implementing the spirit of the recent virtual summit between Mr Xi and US President Joe Biden, and injecting "more positive energy into our relations".

Mr Qin called for strengthened cooperation in manufacturing, financial services and the energy sector.

He also repeated Beijing's call for Washington to abolish additional tariffs imposed on Chinese goods by the administration of former president Donald Trump.

Mr Marc Allen, chief strategy officer for Boeing, welcomed the announcement of fast-track travel and a separate decision by China's aviation authority to issue an airworthiness directive on the Boeing 737 Max. This will pave the way for the model's return to service in China after more than 2½ years.

At the same gathering, US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Jose Fernandez repeated a litany of US complaints about China's business practices and stressed the need for a level playing field for US companies.

He reiterated US concerns about human rights, including alleged forced labour, in China's Xinjiang region and highlighted US government warnings to businesses about the risks of operating in Hong Kong.

China has denied accusations of forced labour in Xinjiang.

He told business leaders operating in China that they should keep in mind that they are "not bystanders in the broader economic and strategic relationship".

"Above all, please be mindful how your activities can affect US national security and the fundamental values that we all hold dear," he said.

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