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US bars passenger flights from China

The US is barring passenger flights from China from 16 June, in the latest sign of tensions between the two economic giants.

The Department of Transportation said it is punishing Beijing for refusing to let US airlines resume flights to China as its pandemic subsides.

In recent weeks the countries have sparred over coronavirus and China’s policies in Hong Kong.

But Washington said it would continue to “engage” on the air travel issue.

The Department of Transportation order applies to four airlines – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines – which have continued to fly between the two countries during the pandemic, although at reduced levels.

It needs final approval from US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused China of engaging in unfair trade, and in recent weeks criticised its handling of coronavirus and protests in Hong Kong.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. Officials have previously said its restrictions, which were introduced to control coronavirus, were fair since they apply to all airlines.

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