China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on U.S. diplomats

Tit for tat:Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswomanHua Chunying during a press briefing in Beijing.AP/FILENg Han Guan  

China on Friday said it had taken “reciprocal” measures against U.S. diplomats in the country, ordering them to notify the Foreign Ministry before meeting with local officials.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had notified the U.S. embassy of the new measures on Wednesday, which she said were a “countermeasure” to Washington’s decision in October to restrict Chinese diplomats.

“We once again urge the U.S. side to correct its mistakes and revoke the relevant rules,” she told reporters at a press briefing.

In October, the U.S. ordered Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department in advance of any official meetings with U.S. diplomats, local or municipal officials, and before any visits to colleges or research institutions.

At the time, Washington called the move “reciprocal”, with a senior State Department official citing the inability of U.S. diplomats to meet with a range of Chinese officials and academics.

On Friday, Ms. Hua said that U.S. diplomats would have to notify the Foreign Ministry five working days in advance.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing declined to comment.

China’s move to restrict U.S. diplomats comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing spike over human rights issues.

High tensions

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a law that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which has been rocked by nearly six months of often violent unrest demanding greater autonomy — which Beijing has frequently blamed on foreign influence.

On Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers also voted to pass a Uighur rights Bill, which could impose sanctions against senior Chinese officials over the crackdown on Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.