Beijing says it will improve its preparedness for military combat. In the background: heightened U.S. tensions.
A flight carrying about 200 employees of German companies to China is to arrive Saturday in the first mass return of foreign workers since Beijing barred most visitors from overseas two months ago to fight the coronavirus. The employees obtained visas under a "fast track" program aimed at helping revive the economy, said Jens Hildebrandt, executive director of the German Chamber of Commerce in China. "There is huge demand," Hildebrandt said Tuesday.
The ratcheting up of tensions comes as Beijing is hounded by questions over alleged missteps in its initial response to contain the virus.
China said on Monday it opposes all U.S. restrictions imposed against Chinese airlines, responding to a report that the U.S. Transportation Department has demanded Chinese carriers file their schedules and other flight details by May 27. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said flight restrictions imposed by Beijing treated all airlines equally and were due to efforts to curb COVID-19 related risks. The U.S. government late on Friday accused the Chinese government of making it impossible for U.S. airlines to resume service to China.
The Chinese virology institute at the centre of US allegations it may have been the source of the COVID-19 pandemic has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new global contagion, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 -- which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide -- originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. In the interview filmed on May 13 but broadcast Saturday night, Wang Yanyi said the centre has "isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats".