China's border reopening is a trickle - for now

STORY: These are the first Chinese tourists to arrive in Thailand on a direct flight from China in three years - 200 of them - and a momentous occasion for them now that China's government has ended the strict COVID border controls that largely kept its citizens from traveling abroad since the start of the pandemic.

China finally reopened on Sunday (January 8) to jubilant scenes at airports, and already on Monday (January 9) its stock market has strengthened as has its currency, the yuan.

Good news as its economy faces the lowest growth in almost half a century.

This is one of the tourists:

"We're very excited to come back to Thailand. We have been waiting for three years already."

"Before the start of COVID, we come here every year. And this time I take my family to come here."

Long lines in Beijing as people eagerly await to renew their passports.

The government says it expects people to take two billion trips this season, but in these early days of reopening it's only a trickle... not a flood. Not yet.

Flight Data shows that on Sunday there were 245 international flights coming and going from China. On the same day in 2019 there were over two and a half thousand.

Also, several countries are still cautious about how to deal with inbound Chinese travelers.

The World Health Organization has accused the Chinese government of underreporting the ongoing COVID outbreak inside its borders that is overwhelming its hospitals and crematoriums, while Beijing has downplayed the severity.

The United States has imposed mandatory negative COVID tests on travelers from China, as has the UK, Japan, Spain, and others.

Taiwan said Monday that nearly 20% of recent arrivals from China had tested positive.