US imposes tit-for-tat restrictions on Chinese diplomats

The US on Wednesday ordered Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department before meeting with federal and local officials, calling it a "reciprocal" move.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new restrictions came in response to the inability of US diplomats to meet with a range of Chinese officials and academics.

The move comes as Washington and Beijing -- the world's two largest economies -- are locked in a bitter trade dispute. A partial deal is now being put down in writing, President Donald Trump said Wednesday.

"Unfortunately in China, US diplomats do not have unfettered access to a range of folks that are important for us to do our job there," the official told reporters.

"That includes local and provincial level officials, academic institutions, research institutes," the official said. "We have to seek permission and such permission is often denied."

Chinese diplomats will henceforth be required to tell the State Department in advance of any official meetings with US diplomats, local or municipal officials, and before any visits to colleges or research institutions.

"What we're trying to achieve here is just to get closer to a reciprocal situation," the official said, emphasizing that Chinese diplomats were not being asked to get "permission" for their visits.

The official said he hoped the measure would prompt Beijing to open up its own country a bit more to US diplomats.

The US and China are also at odds over intellectual property rights and human rights questions including freedom of speech.