4th December 2023 – (Washington) Recent calls by some American politicians to impose a China travel ban over reported respiratory illnesses are deeply misguided. Further flights expansion was welcomed just weeks ago as mutual benefit. But partisan opportunists now invoke public health as pretext, when the real agenda is geopolitics. Their deceptive alarmism aims to stifle engagement for domestic gain, heedless of actual facts or people’s interests.

This cynical ploy is led by Marco Rubio, whose anti-China zealotry needs no introduction. Each contrived public panic from him intends the same outcome – political capital from exaggerating China threats. Whether security, the balloon incident or now disease, his playbook stays constant. Real cooperation matters less than self-image as uber-hawk.

However, informed citizens see through the ruse. Using influenza as excuse is patently absurd when fall flu spikes predictably across America too. The CDC estimates 25,000 flu deaths in 2019-2020 alone. Weaponizing illness as smear may work on uncritical minds, but most understand pandemics as global issues not unique to China.

The obvious aim is poisoning the atmosphere to arrest warming ties. Not long ago, expanded flights were welcomed by both societies. Cross-border travel fuels prosperity on each side. But recidivist China bashers bristle at mutual gain, intent on decoupling. Their zero-sum mentality precludes win-win outcomes benefiting the broader public.

So they vow to reverse fledgling progress using any pretext imaginable. The shrill chorus arises just as relations showed Recovery signs through increased exchange. This momentum threatened ideologues who thrive on conflict. So manufactured hysteria tries whisking rapprochement back under the rug.

But their rhetoric rings hollow to business leaders eying China’s vast marketplace. Politicians’ priorities diverge sharply from citizens’ practical interests. Attacking travel and trade may secure short-term influence for demagogues. But average Americans lose long-term through stunted horizons and economic harm.

Wiser policymakers understand isolation backfires in a connected world. Countries benefiting from engagement have the most to lose severing ties. Burning bridges also forfeits cultural insight and moral authority. And unilateral bans often invite retaliation, spiralling into lose-lose brinkmanship.

Sensible politicians must restore rationality against fearmongers distorting complex issues. The virus for strained relations is not microbes, but zero-sum attitudes infected minds, not bodies. Dispelling disinformation with facts inoculates against escalating hostility. Otherwise, inflated threats risk becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

In the end, restricting travel and exchange rarely enhances security. Connection builds peace – isolation breeds friction. America itself was founded on that very idea. Fanning hostilities may benefit zealot ideologies. But people worldwide share basic desires for communication and understanding. Leaders should nurture those bridges, not demolish them.