China: U.S. politicizes pulling of its non-essential staff from Shanghai over COVID-19

China on Tuesday voiced its dissatisfaction with and opposition to the U.S. politicizing the evacuation of its non-essential staff from the Shanghai consulate.

Citing what it called the "impact of restrictions" related to China's COVID-19 response in the municipality, the U.S. Department of State announced on Monday that it "ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and all family members from the Consulate General Shanghai consular district."

The latest U.S. move came just two days after it authorized a voluntary departure from China for U.S. personnel and their family members at the consulate, citing the same concerns that China refuted as "groundless accusations" against the country's pandemic response policies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Tuesday told a regular press briefing in Beijing that it was the call of the U.S. to order or authorize the evacuation.

However, Zhao stressed the effectiveness of China's COVID-19 response, adding that foreign citizens who work and live in Shanghai, including those of the United States, have been standing with all the other Shanghai residents in the fight against the pandemic.

Chinese authorities have acted, in line with relevant international conventions and local COVID-19 policy, to provide foreign diplomatic and consular personnel in China "with as much assistance and convenience as possible" in performing their duties, he said.

Zhao added that China has made solemn representations to the U.S. side over its evacuation orders, and urges the U.S. to immediately stop attacking China's pandemic control and prevention policy, stop using the pandemic for political manipulation, and stop smearing China.

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