STATE DEPARTMENT - The United States is requiring all Chinese diplomats in the country and Chinese officials traveling to the U.S. on official business to give the State Department advance notice of meetings with local, state and federal officials, as well as educational and research institutions.
Chinese diplomats are not required to obtain permission for the meetings; they need only to notify the State Department in advance. In China, U.S. diplomats have to seek permission, and such permission is frequently denied.
"What we're trying to accomplish here is just to 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," said a senior State Department official Wednesday in a phone briefing to reporters.
"Unfortunately in China, U.S. diplomats do not have unfettered access to a range of folks that are important for us to do our job. That includes local and provincial-level officials, academic institutions, [and] research institutes," said the official.
The Chinese government was apprised of this requirement last week. The U.S. State Department received one such notification Wednesday.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington pushed back in a tweet on Wednesday.
"According to Article 25 of the Vienna Convention, the receiving State shall accord full facilities for the performances of the functions of the mission. But the US side is doing exactly the opposite."
The latest action comes amid heightened diplomatic tension between the two nations over issues including Hong Kong, human rights and trade.
But U.S. officials told reporters that Wednesday's announcement had been in the works for some time and was "not directly linked" to any other part of relations between the U.S. and China.
Last Monday, the U.S. put 28 Chinese organizations in the so-called "Entity List," barring U.S. companies from doing business with them. The Chinese companies affected are involved in the abusive treatment over the Uighur ethnic minority in its western Xinjiang province, and include high-tech firms that do considerable global business.
Last Tuesday, the State Department announced new restrictions on visas issued to senior Chinese officials who are said to be responsible for the repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang.