US imposes new restrictions on Chinese diplomats at American universities

Diplomats must label themselves as delegates from the People’s Republic of China on social media.

The State Department announced new restrictions on Chinese diplomats visiting American campuses.

The new restrictions come after several professors at American universities were arrested for aiding the Chinese government in espionage.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new State Department restrictions on Chinese diplomats in relation to American universities.

According to a press release, the State Department “will now require senior PRC diplomats in the United States to receive approval to visit U.S. university campuses.” Additionally, the Chinese embassy and consulates will have to gain permission from the State Department to host events with more than 50 people. The State Department will also “take action to help ensure that all official PRC embassy and consular social media accounts are properly identified as PRC government accounts.”

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The new restrictions are in the interest of reciprocity in terms of restrictions on diplomats.

“For years, the PRC has imposed significant barriers on American diplomats working in the PRC that are far beyond diplomatic norms,” explained Pompeo. “PRC authorities implement a system of opaque approval processes designed to prevent American diplomats from conducting regular business and connecting with the Chinese people.” 

When American diplomats attempt to visit universities or host cultural events in China, they are “regularly obstructed.”

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“Should the PRC eliminate the restrictions imposed on U.S. diplomats, we stand ready to reciprocate,” Pompeo said.

The restrictions come in the context of academics at American universities aiding the Chinese government in intellectual property theft, as well as dozens of remaining Confucius Institutes, which U.S. intelligence officials have said the Chinese Communist Party uses as propaganda arms.

Recently, a UCLA researcher was arrested after allegedly throwing away a hard drive while under investigation for transferring sensitive data to a Chinese military university. Days before that, a professor and NASA researcher at Texas A&M was arrested for concealing his connections to Chinese universities and corporations.

Leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, the University of North Texas cancelled all visas from visiting Chinese scholars, also terminating all access to UNT servers and emails.

Follow Campus Reform’s coverage of the threat that China poses to American universities here.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft