GT: US Plots to Authorise Departure of Staff From Embassies in China Over Epidemic Ahead of Olympics

© REUTERS / THOMAS PETERA paramilitary police officer gestures at the photographer in front of the mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, January 15, 2022
A paramilitary police officer gestures at the photographer in front of the mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, January 15, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.01.2022
The US Department of State is mulling to approve embassies and consulates to authorise the departure of their US employees in China, citing reasons for "China's epidemic situation," a source familiar with the matter told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Such authorised departure needs to be approved by senior officials from the State Department, which aims at specific emergencies for US institutions overseas.

Authorised departure gives US government employees at US embassies the option to depart if they wish and their departure is not required.

Since the early outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020, the US unilaterally announced a temporary shutdown of the US consulate in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province and evacuated its staff. Recently, the US has been conducting a number of acts in instigating and sabotaging the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Such tricks ahead of the Chinese New Year and the Games showed its true intention, which is beyond the anti-epidemic consideration but only serves to create panic, slander China's anti-epidemic work and disrupt China's successful hosting of the Winter Olympics.

Considering the string of provocations made by the US recently to destroy the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, the US' plan to release the authorized departure ahead of the Olympic Games and the Spring Festival means no good. 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, analysts said.

China is one of the safest places in the world with its scientific and precise prevention measures winning applause, and its effective anti-epidemic strategy is well recognised which is in sharp contrast to the US' continuous chaos and failure in dealing with the pandemic, they noted.

According to data from Worldmeters, as of press time on Wednesday, the US has more than 73 million coronavirus cases and a death toll of 894,880. US media reported that cities and states are still struggling with a high demand for hospital services due to the spread of the Omicron variant, and in the past 24 hours, there have been 789,789 new confirmed cases and 1,583 new deaths.

Following its announcement of a diplomatic "boycott" of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in December, the plan is the latest trick in less than 10 days before the Games, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

"What the US wants is when you are preparing for a happy occasion, it is purposely making chaos," Li said, noting that in the eyes of the US, the Winter Olympic Games is not a big sports event, and China's prevention work is not the regular governance of "a normal country" and all these are measures for China to expand its influence and need to be attacked by all means.

When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to the US government's China approach, he used an old saying that "if you're not at the table, you'll probably be on the menu. We are and will remain at the table." Li said that this is the US' logic of China-US relations, and in order not to help China with the Olympics, it will sabotage it.

Li noted that in the coming month until the end of the Olympics, Washington may make more actions as provocations against China and sabotage the sports event - and pull more allies as possible to join it.
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The US recently suspended 44 China-bound flights from the US by four Chinese carriers on Friday, which will begin on January 30, marking the latest development on disputes over international flights and anti-epidemic rules between the two countries. Such a decision was slammed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday, calling it an unreasonable and extremely irresponsible act that ignored passengers' health and safety.

The US' attempts to play the card of COVID-19 to further politicize sports and pressure China are doomed to fail and will only push itself against the international community and make itself the laughing stock, analysts said.

Making such a plan for authorized departures further proves that in the face of an overall stable and positive situation in China, the US intends to create more trouble to divert attention from the chaotic situation at home where its economy is now on the brink of collapse, and Washington needs to instigate a crisis overseas to attract oversea capital to the US, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

It's now in the situation: either passive governance or governance that leads to a mess. "Americans understand the risks they face domestically, so they escalate tensions with Russia, and now with China," Lü said, noting that by hyping such an unrealistic plan of withdrawing its diplomatic staff and relevant personnel, the US government could create such a false image that the situation in China is intense, and US diplomatic staff are ready to leave anytime.

As long as a significant turmoil occurs outside the US, international capital would flow back to the US, as the US government hopes, "but I don't think it will work," the expert said.

Besides such an ill-intentioned trick of planning to authorise the departure of embassy staff, would the US come up with other tactics such as instigating tensions in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits? Lü warned that all kinds of preparation work need to be done as the possibility of the US government taking riskier moves can't be excluded.

Li also warned that China should not be too optimistic about the US' moves and should make full preparations and take firm countermeasures.
*This article originally appeared in the Global Times.
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