House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY-1) and House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting information on American diplomats being detained by China in COVID-19 quarantine camps.
According to the letter, citing “U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing,” China has held 16 U.S. diplomats and their relatives in COVID-19 quarantine camps against their will, and they have been “subjected to strict confinement measures with no definitive release date.”
The letter expresses concerns that these diplomats are at risk of divulging intelligence and classified information while being in these camps. The letter cites a Washington Post article from July and whistleblowers as stating that the Chinese government has “engaged in a sustained campaign to deprive U.S. diplomats of their liberties under the guise of COVID-19 containment.”
Examples that the letter gives, citing “documents on file with committee” [which is presumably either the Committee on Oversight and Reform, or the Committee on Foreign Affairs] include China “improperly” testing US diplomats for medical conditions beyond COVID-19, isolating diplomatic families in “fever clinics” for prolonged periods of time, and attempting to separate diplomats’ children from their parents.
In January, US diplomats had petitioned the State Department to allow them to leave China over China’s treatment of them during the pandemic. At that time, two anonymous sources spoke to Reuters claiming that some in the embassy believed that “the U.S. government has been unwilling or unable to exempt American officials from strict quarantine measures.” According to Reuters, at one point as much as a quarter of US embassy staff and their family in China wanted to be evacuated.
The letter also claimed that China has killed over 30 American intelligence assets in China during the Obama administration.
Chinese officials claim the allegations surrounding the quarantining of US diplomats and their families are false. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning called the allegations “absurd and groundless,” and praised China’s COVID-19 quarantine policies as “open and transparent,” stating that China “adopts a science-based and effective epidemic prevention protocol for both Chinese and foreigners coming to China without discrimination.” Mao also accused the Congressmen who authored the letter of “China phobia.”
China similarly denied the allegations after the Washington Post story broke in July. At the time, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that China had been following the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and that “[f]oreign diplomatic and consular personnel in China are obliged to respect and comply with the Chinese regulations on pandemic prevention[…].”
China’s detention of American diplomats under the cover of quarantine demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party can act against American interests with impunity. Coupled with the recent story that China maintains a covert police station in New York City, China continues to erode American power both in the US and abroad. The State Department should act swiftly to protect American diplomats and their families in China.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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Biden to lift sanctions on China in exchange for third promise to combat fentanyl
Reportedly President Joe Biden is making deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help improve anti-drug trafficking measures. China is one of the top fentanyl producers and distributors, culminating in a pandemic of fentanyl overdoses and deaths in the United States.
The Biden administration will be lifting sanctions on a Chinese government ministry, in exchange for bolstering anti-drug trafficking measures, Bloomberg reported. “We’re hoping to see some progress on that issue this coming week,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Monday, according to the New York Post. “That could then open the door to further cooperation on other issues where we aren’t just managing things, but we’re actually delivering tangible results.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation noted that should a deal materialize, it will be at least the third time that China has promised to get tough on fentanyl. In 2016, China agreed to increase counter-narcotics operations, and Xi again agreed to launch a crackdown in 2018. Nonetheless, China and Mexico are “the primary source countries for fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked directly into the United States,” according to a 2020 DEA intelligence report.
“China remains the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations environment, as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States.”
President Joe Biden and Xi are meeting for the first time in over a year during this week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. Sources familiar with the situation told Bloomberg that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will crack down on Chinese companies manufacturing chemical precursors for fentanyl in exchange for the U.S. lifting sanctions on the Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science, which the Commerce Department added to the Entity List in 2020 for “engaging in human rights violations and abuses” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
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