The United States and China have agreed to increase the number of commercial flights between the two countries to improve people-to-people ties, the top US diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Grittenbrink, said on Wednesday.
He told an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that the countries had agreed to “see a gradual increase in the number of commercial flights between the United States and China.”
Before the coronavirus outbreak, there were about 350 flights a week between the U.S. and China, and now there are 24 flights a week, Grittenbrink said.
“I think we can do better,” he added.
He said the agreement was reached during Foreign Affairs Minister Antony Blinken’s visit to China earlier this month. During the trip, Washington and Beijing failed to make major progress in their rivalry, but agreed to stabilize ties. After Blinken’s visit, US President Joe Biden called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, both countries banned flights and travel to prevent the spread of the disease, and air links have yet to be fully restored.
Kritenbrink said he wants to change the disparity between the number of Chinese students in the U.S. and American students in China, which he estimates is 300,000 Chinese students to 350 American students.
At Wednesday’s event, Kritenbrink described China’s actions in the South China Sea as coercive.
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