US urges China to alter quarantine rules for diplomats - Hindustan Times
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US urges China to alter quarantine rules for diplomats

Bloomberg |
Jan 29, 2022 11:59 AM IST

China has maintained some of the world’s toughest restrictions in order to push the number of cases near zero, despite outbreaks in much of the country ahead of next month’s Olympic Games.

The Biden administration said it recommended changes to China’s requirements for Covid-19 quarantine and testing among American diplomats, adding to tensions between the world’s biggest economies ahead of the Olympics. 

A man uses a smartphone to record residents getting a throat swab at a mass coronavirus test site in Xichen District in Beijing.(AP)
A man uses a smartphone to record residents getting a throat swab at a mass coronavirus test site in Xichen District in Beijing.(AP)

“We have long-standing concerns regarding the PRC’s quarantine and testing policies that run counter to diplomatic privileges and immunities,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Thursday, referring to China’s formal name. “We’ve recommended what we think are a series of reasonable options that would be consistent with Covid-19 mitigation measures and at the same time align with international diplomatic norms.” 

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The remarks followed a report by CNN saying that officials at the U.S. embassy in Beijing formally asked the State Department to allow American diplomats to leave the country after some diplomats expressed concern over China’s increasingly strict Covid-19 restrictions in recent months. 

China Criticizes U.S. Diplomats Seeking Exit Over Covid Rules

The US has stopped sending new diplomats to work in its missions because of China’s Covid controls, according to a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified as the information is private. The US embassy in Beijing on Saturday didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside of regular working hours. 

In a call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the US of flouting agreements reached during a November summit between President Joe Biden and counterpart Xi Jinping. The senior Chinese diplomat Wang protested what he said were US efforts to interfere with the Beijing Olympics next week, and also cited US support for Taiwan as well as Washington’s efforts to build “small circles” of like-minded nations to counter Beijing. 

Xi’s Covid Zero Tactics Get Weaker as Omicron Spreads in China

At a briefing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian suggested any withdrawal of American envoys or their families would be done to tarnish Beijing’s hosting of the Winter Olympics, which start next week. He said China was one of the safest places in the world to be during the pandemic. 

“China’s epidemic prevention and control measures are stringent, thorough and science based,” he said. “Our strategy has proved to be effective and has protected the health of foreigners in China.” 

China has maintained some of the world’s toughest restrictions in order to push the number of cases near zero, despite outbreaks in much of the country ahead of next month’s Olympic Games. 

Pressed about the CNN report, Price said any personnel decisions would be based on “the health, the safety, the security of our colleagues and their family members.” He repeatedly emphasized that the “operating status” at American facilities in China hasn’t changed. 

 

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