China has expressed concerns over reports stating that the US is considering authorising departures of American diplomats in Beijing over COVID-19 rules in the Asian country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on Wednesday that China is “ undoubtedly the safest country at present” and added that withdrawing from the safest nation will only greatly increase the risk of COVID-19 infections for American diplomats. According to Zhao, the US logic is “confusing and hardly justifiable”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “China is undoubtedly the safest country at present. Evacuating from the safest place in the world will only expose US personnel to much greater risks of infection. The logic behind the US’ decision is confusing and hardly justifiable. China has expressed grave concern and dissatisfaction over this to the US side.”

“We hope the US can observe China’s COVID-19 protocols, take China’s position and concerns seriously and think carefully about the so-called “authorized departure” of diplomatic and consular staff,” he added.

Zhao’s remarks came after an exclusive report of Global Times stated that US State Department is mulling to approve the departure of the US Embassy and other officials in China citing “China’s epidemic situation”. Chinese state media stated that it learned the information from a source familiar with the matter on Tuesday.

China’s epidemic prevention is scientific: Zhao

In the same briefing, Zhao also stressed that China’s “epidemic prevention and control protocols are rigorous and science-based. Our effective measures have well-protected foreign nationals in China. They are in line with provisions in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. We have fully accommodated the comfort of diplomatic and consular staff in China and protected their legitimate rights and interests.”

Media reports stated the US mulling over taking out its officials from China over the COVID-19 situation came amid already sour relations between both countries. It is to note that among other stern measures taken by two of world’s superpowers, Washington has already announced a diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 citing human rights abuses by China. Other nations including Australia, Canada have also followed US’ suit with regards to the Winter Olympics.

Image: AP