June 19, 2024

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China blasts US over reports of withdrawing diplomatic staff

BEIJING (AP) — China on Wednesday expressed “serious concerns and dissatisfaction” with the United States over reports of an internal State Department request to allow the departure of diplomats and their families from China amid tightening anti-pandemic measures.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China’s anti-virus regulations were in line with international treaties governing the treatment of diplomatic personnel and that the nation was “undoubtedly the safest country in the world at the moment.”

China has pursued a strict “zero tolerance” policy toward outbreaks, including lockdowns of millions of people, travel bans, compulsory masking, mass testing and health surveillance by smartphone apps.


Classes, including those at international schools, have been moved online and travel links between Beijing and much of the rest of the country are suspended. The latest requirements call for testing of anyone purchasing cough, fever or cold medications.

The measures are credited with preventing major outbreaks, although they have taken a significant toll on local economies and quality of life.

“To leave such a safe place would only significantly increase the risk of infection for U.S. staff,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing. “We find the U.S. decision perplexing and unjustifiable.”

It wasn’t clear if any embassy staff or their families had departed China in recent days, while Beijing enforced lockdowns on parts of the city ahead of the Feb. 4 opening of the Winter Olympics in the city and its outskirts.

In an emailed statement, an unidentified State Department spokesperson said the “operating status at our mission in the PRC has not changed,” using the initials for the People’s Republic of China.

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