By Harrison Arubu
The United States Government has imposed restrictions on senior Chinese diplomats, regarding their engagement in cultural and university events in the country.
Henceforth, Chinese diplomats would require approval from the Department of State to visit U.S. university campuses and to meet with local government officials.
Secretary of State, Mr Michael Pompeo, who announced the decision in a statement on Wednesday, said the move was retaliatory.
Pompeo alleged that Chinese government started it by preventing “American diplomats from conducting regular business and connecting with the Chinese people.”
According to him, cultural events in the U.S. with an audience larger than 50 persons hosted by the Chinese embassy and consular posts outside their premises, will also require approval.
He said the department would also take action to properly identify all Chinese embassy and consular social medical accounts as accounts of the Chinese government.
He stated that this was in retaliation for the denial of the U.S. Embassy in China” unfettered access to Chinese social media.
Pompeo added that Chinese citizens were blocked from using Twitter, Facebook and other American social media platforms.
The statement reads in parts: “For years, the PRC has imposed significant barriers on American diplomats working in the PRC that are far beyond diplomatic norms.
“PRC authorities implement a system of opaque approval processes designed to prevent American diplomats from conducting regular business and connecting with the Chinese people.
“U.S. diplomats’ attempts to host cultural events, secure official meetings, and visit university campuses are regularly obstructed.
“In the U.S., by contrast, PRC diplomats have enjoyed open access to American society, while ignoring sustained U.S. entreaties to improve the balance.
“In response to the PRC’s longstanding restrictions on U.S. diplomats and refusal to engage in good faith on fundamental matters of reciprocity and mutual respect, the Department of State is compelled to impose certain new requirements on PRC diplomats.
“The U.S. insists on reciprocal access to educational and cultural institutions for American diplomats around the world.
“These new requirements on PRC diplomats are a direct response to the excessive restraints already placed on our diplomats by the PRC, and they aim to provide further transparency on the practices of the PRC government,” he said.
The secretary of state said the U.S. was ready to reciprocate as soon as China eliminated the restrictions imposed on U.S. diplomats.