(TibetanReview.net, Oct21’19) – US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad on Oct 21 defended his country’s plans to require Beijing’s diplomats in the US to report contacts with specified Americans while rejecting China’s criticism of it as “very outrageous”, reported the AP Oct 21. Beanstad has added that Washington was, in fact, considering additional rules for employees of entities controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
The report noted that the United States, Australia and some other governments had been looking at possible Chinese efforts to spy or gain influence in their countries. It added that the US plans followed years of complaints from American and other diplomats about controls on their ability to move around China and to meet with officials and members of the public.
Branstad has said the rule was “very modest” and intended to win more access for American diplomats in China’s “closed system.” And he has rejected Chinese criticism that the measure violated a global treaty on conditions for diplomats as “very outrageous”, given that China’s always had far more onerous restrictions on US and other diplomats.
Under the new US plans or rule announced on Oct 16, Chinese diplomats would be required to report contacts with American educators, researchers and local and state governments. Branstad has said by contrast, American diplomats faced a more restrictive system that required them to apply for permission for such contacts, which he has said was often refused.
Branstad has pointed out that American diplomats have been blocked from meeting with Chinese law enforcement and other officials and requests to visit universities had been refused. He has pointed out that when he and other diplomats planned to visit a coffee shop in the western province of Qinghai during a trip to Tibet, officials visited the shop in advance and ordered employees and customers not to talk to the Americans.
“The State Department finally came to the opinion that to try to improve our access we need to show some reciprocity,” Branstad was quoted as telling reporters.
The Chinese embassy in the US had said on its Twitter account that the rule violated the Vienna Convention and claimed that China had imposed no similar restrictions on American. Branstad has dismissed this claim as outrageous.
“I think the response on Twitter from the Chinese ambassador has been really outrageous,” Branstad has said. “The truth is that we have a very open system and they have a very closed system.”
Branstad has continued by saying Washington was considering a separate proposal to require employees of “party-controlled entities” — a group that might include state media — to register as foreign agents. He has added that this was unrelated to the rule for diplomats.
“There has been some discussion about Chinese that are working for party-controlled entities and whether they should be treated as foreign agents,” the ambassador has said.