In a tit-for-tat move, the United States has decided to suspend all flights by Chinese airlines into and out of the country from June 16. The move has come after the Chinese government rejected a request by US carriers to resume passenger services to China from June 1. According to news agency AFP, the suspension can come into effect sooner if President Donald Trump orders it to be.
"US carriers have asked to resume passenger service, beginning June 1st. The Chinese government's failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement," the US Transportation Department said in a statement.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, US airlines had suspended services to China but two of the country's air carriers - United and Delta - submitted applications last month to resume flights to China but the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) didn't authorize.
Tensions between US and China
The relations between the US and China have been strained lately with the former objecting to the latter's move to bring new security laws in Hong Kong, which people believe will end the unique freedom of the Chinese autonomous region. The suspension of flights is the latest spat between the two world powers and centres around the CAAC move to determine its limit on foreign airlines based on their activity on March 12.
"Arbitrary 'baseline' date... effectively precludes US carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to and from China. Our overriding goal is not the perpetuation of this situation, but rather an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties will be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights," DoT said in the order.
The US had recently delivered a major blow to China after a bill was introduced in the US Congress to recognize Tibet, which is under Chinese occupation, as a separate country. The bill was introduced in the US Congress to nullify China's control over Tibet and recognize it as an independent country by Congressman Scott Perry.