US to ban passenger flights from China

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

The Department of Transportation said it was punishing Beijing for refusing to let US flights to China resume following the coronavirus outbreak.

In recent weeks the countries have sparred over the pandemic 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.

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. Beijing had previously said it opposed any new air travel restrictions.

In announcing the ban, the US said it had raised repeated concerns since March, when China restricted international flight arrivals to battle coronavirus.

Beijing had told domestic and foreign airlines to operate no more than one weekly flight between China and any given country, adding that carriers could not exceed capacity they were offering on 12 March.