U.S. Diplomats Return to China Despite Row Over Consulate Closure
What’s new: A flight carrying an unspecified number of American diplomats reportedly left Washington Wednesday evening for Shanghai to restaff the U.S. mission in China. The flight is being taken as a sign that the two sides could have reached an agreement in regard to diplomats being able to return to their posts in each other’s countries.
Reuters reported that the Shanghai-bound flight left earlier than previously planned. The U.S. State Department was also planning two additional flights, one of which was tentatively scheduled on July 29, bound for Tianjin and Beijing, the report said.
Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Thursday during a press conference that in June, some American diplomatic staff had returned and reopened the U.S. consulate in Wuhan, which was previously closed and evacuated due to the coronavirus outbreak in January.
The background: The latest returning American diplomats came as tensions between the two countries dramatically escalated over the U.S.’ decision on Tuesday to abruptly close a Chinese consulate in Houston within 72 hours — a move that Beijing vowed to retaliate against.
The two sides had been negotiating American diplomats’ return to China. A key point of contention was the required Covid-19 testing measures due to the epidemic in the U.S. On Tuesday, the Chinese aviation authority issued new rules that will require valid nucleic acid test result from all inbound passengers on international flights.
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