People wearing face masks pick food in a cafeteria in Beijing, China, on December 8, 2022. The European Union is encouraging member states to place voluntary measures on Chinese travelers because of the rise of the coronavirus there. Photo by Wu Hao/EPA-EFE
Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The European Union on Wednesday encouraged its member states to adopt precautionary safety measures regarding Chinese travelers and the COVID-19 pandemic, stopping short of ordering mandatory compliance to the rules.
The voluntary measures include adopting a facemask policy for those flying into EU states from a destination in China, preflight testing and surveillance of wastewater to find signs of a possible COVID-19 outbreak.
Representatives attending a meeting in Brussels decided to take a "coordinated precautionary approach" to deal with Chinese travelers despite COVID-19 infections hitting record numbers in China.
Chinese officials have complained that actions taken against travelers were politically motivated and not based on science.
EU members France, Italy and Spain have already placed their own measures targeting Chinese travelers, accusing China of failing to give out reliable data on the COVID-19 spread there. The United States, Japan and India, along with Australia and Canada have called for Chinese travelers to take pre-flight COVID-19 tests as well.
Despite alarm in the West over China's rising coronavirus numbers, officials there said the virus was "under control."
"China has established the world's largest production lines of COVID vaccines with an annual production capacity of over seven billion doses and an annual output of over 5.5 billion doses, which meet the needs of ensuring that all people eligible for vaccination have access to COVID vaccines," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.
Mao blamed the United States for making COVID-19 a political issue instead of a health issue.
"If the U.S. had not politicized the epidemic, and had treated it responsibly and put people's lives first like the Chinese government, perhaps the COVID situation in the U.S. and the whole world would not have become what it is today," Mao said.