Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday unveiled a set of new restrictions for Chinese diplomats operating inside the U.S., a move the secretary said is designed to mirror similar “significant barriers” facing American diplomats in China.
Beijing, Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, has employed “a system of opaque approval processes designed to prevent American diplomats from conducting regular business, attending events, securing meetings and connecting with the Chinese people.” That is in contrast to Chinese diplomats in the U.S., who the secretary described as having “open access to American society.”
Under the new restrictions, senior Chinese diplomats in the U.S. will be required to receive approval from the State Department to visit college campuses or meet with local government officials.
In addition, Pompeo said, “cultural events with groups larger than 50 people hosted by the Chinese Embassy and consular posts outside of our mission properties” will also require U.S. approval, and the Trump administration will also push for all official social media accounts run by the Chinese government to be identified as such.
With the new rules, Pompeo said, the U.S. is “simply demanding reciprocity” from the Chinese government.
The restrictions are just the latest Trump administration crackdown on China as relations between Washington and Beijing have turned frosty in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and as the presidential election continues to heat up.
Since inking a phase one trade deal with China in January, the two countries have slapped sanctions on one another, with the U.S. targeting Chinese officials and entities over the internment of predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, its moves to crack down on Hong Kong’s autonomy, and its aggression in the South China Sea. The U.S. also shuttered a Chinese consulate in Houston earlier this summer.
China, in turn, has levied retaliatory sanctions on U.S. lawmakers and moved to expel U.S. journalists from the country.