US Embassy in China asks State Department to let diplomats leave over Covid restrictions

北京 The US diplomatic mission in China has formally requested the State Department grant American diplomatsauthorized departure,” allowing them and their families to leave the country amid increasingly strict COVID-19 containment measures, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The request has not yet been approved by the State Department, ソースによると, who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity.
アン “authorized departuregives employees and families in the United States embassy and consulates the option to leave China for a period of time until they feel safe to return, but is not a mandatory evacuation under anordered departure.
    China is one of the few places in the world still adhering to a zero-Covid strategy, in which it aims to stamp out all cases within its borders.
      Since the arrival of Omicron, authorities have seen several outbreaks across the country, prompting local officials to implement mass testing, strict lockdowns, contact tracing and new restrictions on movement. 一部の都市では, people caught in snap lockdowns have been forced to spend days in office buildings and shopping malls until everybody inside tested negative.
        A US diplomatic source familiar with the discussions told CNN the request was made after several diplomats and their families expressed fears over China’s tightening anti-Covid measures ここ数ヶ月で, 含む snap lockdowns and quarantines that could potentially separate underage children from parents.
        現在, the US diplomatic mission in China has an agreement with the Chinese Foreign Ministry to allow parents to stay with minor children in case of quarantine. しかしながら, there is growing concern China’s national health agency could potentially override that agreement.
          A video of a 4-year-old child infected with Covid-19, separated from his parents and placed into quarantine alone in the city of Putian, went viral last Septemberhighlighting the human cost of China’s stringent pandemic measures.
          While there have been no incidents of diplomats being separated from their children, the diplomatic source said US officials in China fear that could change amid the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, which could strain the country’s health care system and hospitals.
          People are not scared of getting sick,” the diplomatic source said. “What has people spooked is that Omicron is more contagious and if it were to spike in the way we’ve seen in other countries, it could lead to even stricter and more unpredictable measures here.
          We are not questioning China’s safety in containing Covid, but we do want to prevent people from being thrown into the system should it become overrun.
          The move comes less than two weeks before Beijing is due to host the Winter Olympics, with thousands of athletes and support staff confined in abubble designed to keep them separated from the rest of the capital.
          The US and several other countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games, meaning they will not send government officials to attend, in protest of the alleged human rights abuses in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
          水曜日現在, 10 cities in China have reported local Omicron cases, including Shanghai and Beijing. Since the start of the month, 42 people entering the Beijing Olympics bubble, referred to by officials as a “閉ループ,” have tested positiveincluding four Olympics-related personnel who were already inside the loop, said officials on Wednesday. It’s not clear whether they were recent arrivals or if any local transmission ​occurred within the closed loop.
          A State Department spokesperson said the operating status at US Mission in China has not changed.
          Any change in operating status of this nature would be predicated solely on the health, 安全性, and security of our colleagues and their family members,” 広報担当者は追加しました.
          If approved, US Mission China expects roughly 10 に 15% of its approximate 1,000 personnel will leave the country, according to internal polling conducted by the embassy in Beijing, the diplomatic source told CNN.
          This estimate does not include family members. Staff and families would be allowed to depart on commercial airlines.
          Chinese state media, その間, has fumed at news of theauthorized departure” リクエスト, accusing the US embassy ofill intentionand linking it to what it calls astring of provocations made by the US recently to destroy the Beijing Winter Olympic Games” — such as the diplomatic boycott announced by Washington.
          Dirty trick again!” screamed a headline in the Global Times, a state-run nationalist tabloid on Wednesday. “Its purpose is not about concerns over coronavirus but more about making public panic, smear China’s achievements in fighting the pandemic, and disturb the Beijing Winter Olympic Games,” レポートは言った.
          What the US wants is when you are preparing for a happy occasion, it is purposely making chaos,” a Chinese analyst was cited as saying.
            The last time US diplomats were requested to leave in China due to Covid was during the initial outbreak in Wuhan, when the State Department issued anordered departureto diplomats and their families.
            The new US Ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, was sworn in on Tuesday. He is expected to take up the post in the coming months, but his arrival could be delayed due to the recent Covid outbreak, the diplomatic source told CNN.

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