Foreign businesses from the US to Europe that operate in the Chinese market are seeking to open more channels such as chartered flights for their employees to return to China, some are even actively pushing for establishing what's known as a "green channel" (fast lane) between China and their home countries, several companies and business groups told the Global Times.
"Judging from the progress of [the talks], it is hopeful that the number of flights between relevant countries could increase to an appropriate degree," Xiong Jie, a spokesperson for the CAAC, told a press briefing.
However, Xiong stressed that strict anti-viral efforts are a prerequisite for any resumption of flights, while pointing to four specific previously announced criterion for countries that could resume more flights to and from China. Qualified countries are those that have exported less COVID-19 cases to China, have close economic ties with China, have effective anti-viral capabilities to reduce risks, have an urgency for work resumption and have already established "green channels" for business travel with China.
Under the rules, South Korea and Singapore, which already have "green channels" with China could see more flights in and out of the country, analysts said. Other countries such as the US, Japan and some in Southeast Asia and Europe could also see more flights, chartered or otherwise, some insiders say, though some say increasing flights between China and the US could be challenging due to the deteriorating bilateral relationship.
Still, reading between the lines, it is clear that flights between China and the US will be increased, Zheng Hongfeng, CEO of information provider VariFlight, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In interviews with the Global Times, many foreign businesses are seeking all kinds of ways to bring their employees back to China, including appealing to officials back home and in China. Some business groups are also pushing for more "green channels" with China.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China) is said to be helping arrange chartered flights for US businessmen to return to China, according to a source with a US company. "The chamber probably won't directly charter flights but is coordinating between businesses applying with the government," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
When asked about plans for chartered flights of US business executives, a public relations representative for AmCham China told the Global Times that it has no such plans for now but will arrange activities for information exchange.
The group has scheduled a seminar for Thursday to provide companies with the latest information about how to return to China. Among the guests are executives from the German Chamber of Commerce in China, which has helped German nationals return to work in China.
The German Chamber of Commerce in China has told the Global Times that it was expecting more plans for chartered flights to China, but refused to disclose more details.
The British Chamber of Commerce in China also said that it was in talks to establish fast lanes for UK businessmen to return to China. "Fast lanes are a very important area for us right now. It is something that we are in active dialogue on how to establish" St. John Moore, chairman of the British Chamber, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Apart from US and European businesses, Japanese companies have also told the Global Times that they were pushing for a "green channel" between China and Japan.
Some foreign businesses also told the Global Times that the procedures for their employees to return to China is very complicated with strict quarantine rules and complex paperwork.
In addition to chartered flights, more foreign nationals are also returning to China through normal commercial flights, though the procedures are not so straight forward as employers in China need to obtain invitation letters from local governments for their foreign employees to apply for the required special visa from Chinese embassies overseas, Edmund Yang, a Pricewaterhouse Coopers partner in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.