US restricts movement of Chinese diplomats as further reciprocal measure

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Nicholas Kamm/AP)

(, Sep03’20) – In further tightening of restrictions on senior Chinese diplomats, the United States on Sep 2 announced that they will be required to seek US government permission to engage in a number of routine activities. Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the “State Department has established a mechanism requiring approval for senior Chinese diplomats in the United States to visit university campuses and to meet with local government officials.”

“Cultural events with groups larger than 50 people hosted by the Chinese embassy and consular posts outside our mission properties will also require our approval,” Pompeo said at a news conference at the State Department. “Additionally, we’re taking further steps to ensure that all official PRC embassy and consular social media accounts are properly identified as government accounts, Chinese government accounts.”

Pompeo said the administration had undertaken the move as a reciprocity measure, as with other recent actions against China.

“We’re simply demanding reciprocity. Access for our diplomats in China should be reflective of the access that Chinese diplomats in the United States have, and today’s steps will move us substantially in that direction,” he said.

He has also said in a separate statement, “Should the PRC eliminate the restrictions imposed on US diplomats, we stand ready to reciprocate.”

The latest move escalates a previous one made last October, which required Chinese diplomats to report in advance any official meetings and visits with state officials, local and municipal offices, educational institutions, and research institutions in response to restrictions faced by American diplomats in China.

“In China, US diplomats do not have unfettered access to a range of folks that are important for us to do our job there. That includes local and provincial-level officials, academic institutions, research institutes, so on and so forth,” Sep 2 quoted a senior State Department official as having said at the time.

Last month, the State Department designated a Chinese cultural and educational institution – the Confucius Institute US Center – as a foreign mission. Many educational institutions in the US and elsewhere ended their collaboration with Confucius Institute after strongly criticisms that they are simply a propaganda arm of the Chinese government.

Also, earlier this year, the US designated a number of Chinese media organizations as foreign diplomatic missions, arguing that they are under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.


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