CHINA: Republicans demand answers from State Department on diplomats detained by CCP
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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China Circles the Wagons Around TikTok
In follow up to the recent Congressional hearing on TikTok, Chinese state-run media was swift to condemn any scrutiny of the platform. China is claiming through its state-run media that criticism of TikTok is rooted in anti-China prejudice, that TikTok is harmless and not different from any other social media platform, and that it is the US, not China, that is the bad actor.
CCP Claims Scrutiny of TikTok Based on Prejudice Against China
According to China’s state-run media, the US is attacking TikTok out of racial and political prejudice towards China. Criticisms of TikTok based on security concerns amount to “casual, racially-charged slander” and a “Sinophobic witch-hunt,” according to Global Times. That same article claimed that TikTok “has a large target on its back simply because it is Chinese-owned.” Another Global Times article portrayed the Congressional hearing on TikTok as “xenophobic political grandstanding.”
And Chinese media used statements from Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) to launder its claim that concerns about TikTok stem from racism. China Daily quoted Bowman as saying: “…Let’s not be racist toward China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok because American companies have done tremendous harm to American people.”
Another Global Times article portrayed the hearing as an “anti-Communist witch hunt,” while the same article claimed that “[t]he ghost of McCarthyism is haunting the US again.” Another Global Times article featured a political cartoon with a similar caption: “Ghost of McCarthyism haunts TikTok Hearing.”
CCP Claims that TikTok is an Innovator, and Not Different from Other Social Media
TikTok is a strong innovator not worthy of scrutiny, according to Chinese state-run media. TikTok is “an innovative app that has enriched the digital life of American people and benefited a lot of micro businesses in the US,” according to Global Times. TikTok “…is a global high-tech company representing openness, innovation, and vitality…,” according to another Global Times article. It is “a leader in digital technology and advanced algorithms” and “a competition for technology and competition for markets,” according to a third Global Times piece. It is “a massively successful business,” according to yet another Global Times article.
CCP media also claims that TikTok doesn’t pose any threat different from other social media. One Global Times article laments that there is a “plethora of international experts highlighting the massive hypocrisy that non-Chinese apps such as Facebook and Google harvest much more data than their Beijing-based rival,” and that there is “nothing to prove [TikTok] is a greater risk than any other social media.” TikTok’s CEO testified that “We are committed to be very transparent with our users about what we collect,” and that “I don’t believe what we collect is more than most players in the industry,” according to another Global Times article.
CCP Claims that Focus on TikTok Reveals US (not China) is Bad Actor
Chinese state-run media also tries to capitalize on the attention on TikTok to issue propaganda criticizing the US. The “witch-hunting against TikTok” show that the “US’ technological innovation is going downhill and the political farce against a tiny app has seriously shattered the US values of fair competition and its credibility,” states Global Times.
And the CCP media accuses the US of doing what China has doing for years: intellectual property theft. According to China Daily, the Congressional hearing “is just the latest attempt by the US to steal the company.” The “US has turned from a cradle of innovation into a robber,” according to another Global Times article.
China’s state-run media is once again trying to deflect and redirect attention away from China’s malevolent actions. With TikTok, China alleges that viewing TikTok in a critical light is racist, that TikTok is an innovative application worthy of praise, and that any criticism of TikTok reviews flaws with the US, not China. Given the platform’s increased popularity in the United States, it unfortunately appears that these CCP talking points are convincing a significant segment of the American population.
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