China air force to appear at Singapore show despite virus

SINGAPORE (AFP) – China’s air force will take part in the Singapore Airshow for the first time next week, organisers said, despite the city-state having banned travellers from China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore last week barred passengers who had recently travelled to mainland China from landing or transitting through the city in a bid to contain the virus that has killed hundreds and infected tens of thousands.

Visas for Chinese passport holders were also suspended.

An aerobatics team from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force had been given permission, however, to take part in Asia’s biggest air show, which opens on Tuesday.

“The Ba Yi aerobatics team has taken proactive measures like health checks and temperature screenings to ensure that they are healthy before they fly into Singapore,” organiser Experia Events said in a statement late Wednesday.

Singapore has clamped down on visitors from China in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but will allow the countries airforce to take part in a popular air show. PHOTO: AFP

“They are taking all necessary precautionary measures in line with existing guidelines while they are in Singapore.”

China’s Xinhua news agency said members of the team arrived in Singapore on Wednesday. The team, established in 1962, will participate in the aerial displays which are a highlight of the biennial airshow.

An aerobatics team from the South Korean air force pulled out of the event earlier this week because of virus fears.

Several exhibitors, including Canada’s Bombardier and 10 Chinese companies, have also withdrawn, and a conference that traditionally precedes the main event has been cancelled.

So far more than 560 people have been killed and over 28,000 infected in China by the virus, which has spread to two dozen countries. Singapore has reported 28 cases.