China fights back: Beijing imposes tough restrictions on US diplomats as tensions rocket

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Last week, senior Chinese diplomats were required to get State Department approval before visiting US universities or holding cultural events with more than 50 people.

Announcing the new rules, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We’re simply demanding reciprocity. Access for our diplomats in China should be reflective of the access that Chinese diplomats in the United States have, and today’s steps will move us substantially in that direction.”

The State Department also said it would take action to help ensure all Chinese embassy and consular social media accounts were “properly identified”.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington condemned the move as a “gross violation” of the Vienna Conventions, which governs diplomacy.

And now, China has retaliated by imposing harsh restrictions on US diplomats.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not specify the measures but described them as reciprocal.

They will apply to all staff at the US Embassy and its consulates in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Keith Krach, the State Department’s under-secretary for economic growth, alerted governing boards of US universities to alleged threats posed by China.

Mr Pompeo said: “These threats can come in the form of illicit funding for research, intellectual property theft, intimidation of foreign students and opaque talent recruitment efforts.”

Relations between the two nations have become increasingly strained over recent months.

In June, the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas.

Beijing retaliated and forced the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.

President Donald Trump and Mr Pompeo have both continually attacked the Communist nation over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Mr Trump also accused the World Health Organisation of being too “China-centric”.

Back in May, the US President said: “The World Health Organisation has been a disaster. Everything they said was wrong and they’re China-centric.

“All they do is agree with China, whatever China wants to do. So our country, perhaps foolishly in retrospect has been paying $450million a year to the World Health Organisation and China’s been paying $38million a year but they were more political than all of our leaders previously.

“What they did, what World Health did, was they missed every single call and we’re not going to put up with it.”

The US has also banned a number of Chinese-run social media platforms and mobile networks such as TikTok and Huawei.

Mr Pompeo also urged the UK to ban the 5G network and blamed China for “coercive bullying tactics”.

He wrote on Twitter: “The United States stands with our allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party’s coercive bullying tactics.

“In the latest example, Beijing has reportedly threatened to punish British bank HSBC and to break commitments to build nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom unless London allows Huawei to build its 5G networks.

“Beijing’s aggressive behaviour shows why countries should avoid economic over-reliance on China and should guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence.”

The two nations have also increased their military presence in the South China Sea, sparking fears of a World War 3 outbreak.

Mr Pompeo urged other nations in the highly disputed region to counter China’s dominance in the area.

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