China ‘understands’ Indonesia’s travel restrictions but advises country not to overreact to coronavirus crisis: ambassador

Indonesian students being repatriated from Wuhan by the Indonesian government on Feb. 2, 2020. Photo: Indonesia Foreign Ministry
Indonesian students being repatriated from Wuhan by the Indonesian government on Feb. 2, 2020. Photo: Indonesia Foreign Ministry

As China continues to deal with the deadly Wuhan coronavirus crisis at home, it’s also trying to prevent economic and diplomatic fallouts with nations that have shut their borders to Chinese nationals or visitors who have recently been to China.

China’s ambassador to Indonesia, Xiao Gian, held a press conference at the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta today addressing Indonesia’s imminent travel restrictions for Chinese nationals, which is set to be enforced tomorrow.

Read — Indonesia bans flights from China, pulls visa waivers for Chinese nationals amid growing coronavirus fears

“We (the government of China) recognize that the travel and trade restrictions imposed by more than 200 countries are to prevent outbreaks of the coronavirus. We understand that they took that logical step,” Xiao said.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which last week declared that the coronavirus outbreak posed a global health emergency, actually opposed any travel and trade restrictions as they could needlessly damage economies and encourage travelers to lie.

“[Indonesia] should follow international health policies and take rational preventative measures and not overreact as to avoid straining our diplomatic relationship,” Xiao said, adding that such restrictions could have great repercussions to Indonesia’s economy, especially considering that China contributes the second-largest number of tourists in Indonesia in the last few years.

Not all in Indonesia agree with the travel restrictions. Bali, a hugely popular destination for Chinese tourists, is still open to accepting tourists from China and even accommodate Chinese visitors who want to extend their stay on the island due to the coronavirus outbreak at home.

As of Tuesday morning, the death toll in China has exceeded 420, with the government reporting more than 20,000 confirmed cases. The virus has been detected in at least 25 other countries, though Indonesia has remained free of known infections thus far.


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