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More than two dozen flights by four Chinese airlines to the country will be suspended by the US government in the next month in retaliation against Beijing’s similar suspension of American flights, the United States announced Thursday.

American officials cited China’s cancellation of 26 direct flights to America as the reason for the decision.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also says Chinese authorities implemented a policy in early August that if 4% of passengers on a flight to China tested positive for COVID-19, they would be suspended. Two flights would be suspended if it reached 8%.

The US decision, which affects flights from 5 to 28 September, concerns Xiamen, China Southern Airlines, Air China and China Eastern Airlines.

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Boeing 747-8i operated by the Chinese airline Air China at Shanghai airport
(iStock)

Nineteen of the suspended flights come from Los Angeles, while the remaining seven come from New York.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, criticized the announcement by the Department of Transportation calling it “extremely irresponsible” and saying it “has unfoundedly suspended Chinese airline flights”.

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The Xiamen Air flight had stopped to refuel when the crash occurred.

The Xiamen Air flight had stopped to refuel when the crash occurred.
(Reuters)

Travel-related sparring between Beijing and Washington is not unusual. The move follows the Department of Transportation’s decision to suspend 44 direct flights to China in January.

China had suspended the same amount of flights – 44 – to the United States that month.

People seen wearing face masks outside as smaller Chinese cities begin blocking measures.  Photo taken in Beijing, China, 3 August 2022.

People seen wearing face masks outside as smaller Chinese cities begin blocking measures. Photo taken in Beijing, China, 3 August 2022.
(REUTERS / Thomas Peter / File Photo)

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Over 100 weekly flights between the United States and China were on the agenda before the pandemic. The current number of weekly flights between the two countries is around 20.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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