The United States will be imposing new requirements on Chinese diplomats in the United States, where they must now notify the State Department prior to holding official meetings with state and local officials and research or academic institutions.
During a Wednesday, Oct. 16, special briefing via telephone with senior State Department officials on reciprocal action on Chinese diplomats in the United States, two officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, introduced new rules and answered a series of questions from reporters regarding the rules.
Citing the requirements as a “reciprocal” move, one anonymous official said that he desired to see an end effect where the Chinese regime can provide greater access to U.S. diplomats placed in China.
“Unfortunately in China, U.S. diplomats do not have unfettered access to a range of folks that are important for us to do our job there,” the official told reporters, saying that it “includes local and provincial level officials, academic institutions, research institutes.”
“We have to seek permission and such permission is often denied,” the official said.
“What we’re trying to achieve here is just to get closer to a reciprocal situation,” the official noted, stressing that Chinese diplomats are not being questioned for “permission” for their visits.
“We’re merely asking that they notify us in advance of such meetings,” the official said. “That’s different from what happens many times in China, where our diplomats are forced to seek permission and are often denied such permission.”
“There are many aspects where the administration is vigorously seeking to level the playing field. You see that in trade and any number of other areas,” the official said.
One of the officials explained to reporters that U.S. diplomats were not able to enjoy the liberties that Chinese diplomats are entitled to in the United States, and is only hoping for equal free access to “various stakeholders” on both sides.
“This is another one of those areas where for a number of years, many, many years, there’s a clear gap between the way our U.S. diplomats are able to do their job in China versus the liberties that Chinese diplomats posted here in the United States are able to do their job.”
“Our final objective is absolutely not to restrict their access to any stakeholders here. What we’re looking to do is impose a little bit of reciprocity,” a senior State Department official said in response to a reporter’s question. “And again, we’re not even at the level where the Chinese are, but we’re hopeful that if we can get their attention, that we might be able to effect a more level playing field where both their diplomats here and our diplomats there are able to have much more free and open access to all the various stakeholders that are required to do a good job as a diplomat.”
The first official on the call also clarified to reporters that the state government will not be deciding “yes or no on Chinese requests to meet with various officials,” but to merely require “that they notify us before such meetings.”
The official also emphasized that he wishes to see no headlines “that the U.S. Government is now prohibiting Chinese officials from meeting with mayors or universities” and “that’s absolutely not the case.”
“They’re still free to meet with all those folks,” the official stressed. “In fact, we would encourage that. They merely have to notify before they do it now.”