It’s “common sense” for the U.S. to worry that China might detain some Americans in retaliation for the prosecution of Chinese scholars, according to Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-backed Global Times.
Hu was responding to a Wall Street Journal report, citing people familiar, that said officials in Beijing had warned the U.S. that American nationals in China could be detained as a result of the Justice Department’s actions against scholars affiliated with the Chinese military.
In a series of tweets on Sunday evening, Hu accused the U.S. of applying double standards when it came to arresting suspected spies. America saw its actions as “catching spies in accordance with the law,” while similar actions by Beijing were dismissed as “hostage diplomacy,” Hu said.
“Who gave the US God-like right to define everything” Hu wrote, before going on to say that “some US nationals” in China could be in peril. “Does Washington need to be warned? It’s common sense.”
China first warned the U.S. after a Chinese researcher temporarily took refuge in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, according to the Journal. Beijing said it would detain an American in China if the U.S. didn’t permit researcher Juan Tang to leave the consulate and go back to China, the newspaper reported.
Hu’s tweets are closely watched after he accurately forecasted previous moves by Beijing, even though his statements at times don’t reflect official policy.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Beijing said Monday morning that he had no comment on the suggestion that Americans in China could be subject to arbitrary detention.
China detained two Canadians, including former diplomat Michael Kovrig, after Canada cooperated with U.S. efforts to extradite Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou. They have since been prosecuted on spying allegations.
Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen and employee of China’s English-language state broadcaster CGTN, was detained in August. The following month, two Australian correspondents fled China after Ministry of State Security officers came to their homes and said they were “persons of interest” in an investigation and couldn’t leave the country.
Also read: China warns it may detain Americans if US didn’t stop prosecuting Chinese scholars