New restrictions on the activities of diplomats from the United States working in Mainland China and Hong Kong was announced by China which has been described by China as a justified response by it to similar measures that were previously imposed by the US on Chinese diplomats last year.
The new regulations are applicable to senior diplomats and all other personnel at the American Embassy in Beijing and consulates throughout China, said a foreign ministry spokesperson of the country in a statement posted online late Friday.
The spokesperson however also said that China “normal exchanges and cooperation between all sectors of the two countries” as supported by Beijing and added that the Chinese government could remove the restrictions if the same was done by the US for the restrictions it imposed on Chinese diplomats in October last year.
“Once again we urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistakes and lift the unreasonable restrictions imposed on the Chinese Embassy and consulates and their staff. China will make reciprocal responses to U.S. actions,” the spokesperson, who was not identified in the statement, said.
The statement however provided no details of the new restrictions.
Restrictions on which part of China that US diplomats can visit and for even accessing college campuses were already in force.
The restrictions imposed by the US on Chinese diplomats mandate that they report travel and meetings. According to analysts, this measure by the US was aimed at preventing the Chinese diplomats from interfering within the overseas Chinese community and foreign students. Complaints of a lack of reciprocity in access to media in China have also been made by the US and said that while it is easily possible for Chinese diplomats to put through their views in the US through the local media there, the Chinese state media virtually shun America’s representatives.
The recent refusal of publishing an op-ed by US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad by the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily was protested by the US State Department. The argument put forward by the news paper was that the piece did not meet its editorial standards.
The increasing tensions between the US and China over issues on trade, technology and a host of other issues have also spilled into other spheres of US-China relations such as diplomacy and media. In July, the US had ordered the closure of Chinese Consulate in Houston.
In response, China ordered the closure of the U.S. Consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu which, part from giving a reply to the US also hit the US because the key role of the mission was to monitor activities in the restive Himalayan region of Tibet.
A restriction on the number of Chinese citizens working for state media outlets in the US was also imposed by the US which resulted in the expulsion of 60 reporters. The US has also reduced the length of visas for others from one year to three months.
(Adapted from CNN.com)