Balance & diplomacy


The US has begun to require Chinese diplomats to report meetings with state, local and municipal officials, official visits to educational institutions and official visits to research institution. The incident is brewing. US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said on Monday that Washington is considering additional rules for employees of entities controlled by the Communist Party of China. He also said that employees of these entities may be required to register as foreign agents. The US stated that this was due to the “reciprocity action” to force China to lift restrictions on the activities of US embassies and consulates in China.
First, the Chinese foreign affairs department has not imposed restrictions on the US embassies and consulates to contact various personnel in China, and American diplomats can see the people they want to see in China. Many people from the liberal camp in China have had contact with US diplomats. Some posted their interaction with US diplomats on the internet, and are proud of the experience. However, there is a big difference in the governance in China and the US. When US diplomats reach out, some are wary. This is not what the Chinese government requires. It is how Chinese society usually reacts to such situations.
This situation is not specific to the Americans. Diplomats from countries that have friendly relations with China also feel that “diplomacy is no small matter” in Chinese society. It is not easy even for the Chinese media or research institutions to get in touch with sensitive people or find someone to explore on sensitive issues. US diplomats have enjoyed some privileges that Chinese diplomats do not have in the US. Chinese people value diplomacy and give foreign officials and institutions in China some preferential treatment consciously or subconsciously. For example, Beijing and Shanghai adopted a license-plate lottery system, but diplomats do not need to go through the system or bid for high prices for car plates. Chinese police attach more importance to cases involving foreigners.
The attitude sparked widespread criticism from the Chinese netizens. It is widely acknowledged that foreigners receive privileges in China, and even more so for US diplomats.