USA urged not to set obstacles for Chinese diplomats

Daniel Fowler
October 18, 2019

Mr Mnuchin said the proposed Phase 1 text would include a "quite broad" chapter on protecting United States intellectual property rights in China, but only part of a chapter that aims to curb the forced transfer of American technology to Chinese firms.

An official said the USA was merely "levelling the playing field" with China, and that it was a response to Chinese restrictions on American diplomats.

The rules would apply to "official meetings with [US] state officials, official meetings with local and municipal officials, official visits to educational institutions, and official visits to research institutions", the state department said.

Teams from the USA and China are trying to pin down phase 1 of a trade deal.

US President Donald Trump said China agreed to a "very substantial phase one deal" that will be written over the next three weeks, adding that the deal would address intellectual property and financial services concerns, with China also expected to purchase $40 billion to $50 billion in US agricultural products - an amount yet to be confirmed by Beijing.

In the Senate, the Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee said he hoped the full Senate would vote soon on legislation that would toughen scrutiny of China's rule in Hong Kong and require the State Department to evaluate, at least once a year, whether the territory retains sufficient autonomy to justify the special treatment it enjoys under USA law.

Mr Mnuchin, in a wide-ranging news conference at the Treasury, said there was no invitation from Beijing for another high level meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He on the trade deal outlined last week, but deputies were holding phone conferences this week.

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"This is another one of those areas where for a number of years, several years, there's a clear gap between the way United States diplomats are able to do their job in China versus the liberties that Chinese diplomats posted here in the USA are able to do their job", the official said. "But the USA side is doing exactly the opposite". The official said until that happens, the U.S. is going to take some actions that will go some ways toward leveling the playing field.

"So far, the Chinese side does not have similar requirements on American diplomats and consular officers in China", the embassy said via Twitter.

China today slammed as "groundless" a USA decision to order Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department before meeting with local officials, in the latest spat to strain bilateral relations.

It added: "As for reciprocity, the U.S. has a far greater number of diplomatic personnel in China than China has in the U.S.".

"We're merely asking that they notify us in advance of such meetings", the official said. "We are not restricting Chinese access to stakeholders here in the United States", they insisted. "We're, again, only seeking notification".

We absolutely encourage state and local officials, as well as educational and research institutions, to meet with and host foreign officials as they deem appropriate.

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