Flags of the U.S. and China fly along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
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Chinese diplomats in the United States must now give advance notice of any meetings with state, local and municipal officials, as well as at educational and research institutions, senior State Department officials said on Wednesday.
The officials told reporters the move was an effort to “add reciprocity” to the way U.S. diplomats are treated in China.
It has been in the works for some time, they said, and not directly linked to any other part of the U.S.-China relationship, which has been strained by a trade war under President Donald Trump.
“This action is a response to what the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) government does to limit the interaction our diplomats can have in China with Chinese stakeholders,” a State Department official said.
American diplomats in China must not only notify the government there of meetings they plan to hold with Chinese people and officials, they must get permission first, the official said.
“What we’re trying to accomplish here is … get closer to a reciprocal situation, hopefully with the desired end effect of having the Chinese government provide greater access to our diplomats in China,” the official said.
In a post on Twitter, China’s embassy in Washington said the “latest restrictions” on Chinese diplomats were in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
“So far, the Chinese side does not have similar requirements on American diplomats and consular officers in China,” it added.
The State Department officials said the onus would be on Chinese diplomats and officials to notify the State Department of their planned meetings in the United States.
They would not discuss the consequences for any Chinese official who does not comply with the new requirement, which went into effect on Wednesday.