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Pompeo: Senior Chinese Diplomats Now Need Prior Approval for Travel, Meetings Within US

FILE - The entrance to China's embassy is seen in Washington, May 18, 2012.
FILE - The entrance to China's embassy is seen in Washington, May 18, 2012.

The United States is requiring senior Chinese diplomats to receive prior approval before visiting U.S. university campuses and meeting with local U.S. government officials, citing the need for reciprocity between the two countries.

The new measures come as Washington says Chinese authorities have imposed significant restrictions on American diplomats working in China.

“The Chinese Communist Party has implemented a system of opaque approval processes designed to prevent American diplomats from conducting regular business, attending events, meetings and connecting with the Chinese people, especially on university campuses and via the press and social media,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday in a press briefing.

Cultural events with an audience larger than 50 people hosted by the Chinese Embassy and consular posts outside of mission properties will also require prior approval from the State Department.

The U.S. is also working to ensure all official Chinese Embassy and consular social media accounts are properly identified as Chinese government accounts.

The latest moves come as the U.S. Embassy in China is denied unfettered access to Chinese social media, and as Chinese citizens are blocked from using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Pompeo on Wednesday said the new requirements are “a direct response” to China’s “excessive restraints” already placed on American diplomats, with the goal of providing “further transparency” on the Chinese government’s practices.

“Should the PRC (People’s Republic of China) eliminate the restrictions imposed on U.S. diplomats, we stand ready to reciprocate,” said Pompeo in a statement.

The new measures follow an announcement from last October that all Chinese diplomats and Chinese officials traveling to the U.S. on official business would be required to give the State Department advance notice of meetings with local, state and federal officials, as well as educational and research institutions.