BEIJING — The U.S. ambassador to China defended plans to require Beijing’s diplomats to report contacts with some Americans and said Monday that Washington is considering additional rules for employees of entities controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

The change comes as the United States, Australia and some other governments are looking at possible Chinese efforts to spy or gain influence in their countries. It follows years of complaints from American and other diplomats about controls on their ability to move around China and to meet with officials and members of the public.

Ambassador Terry Branstad said the rule is “very modest” and intended to win more access for American diplomats in China’s “closed system.” He rejected Chinese criticism that the measure violates a global treaty on conditions for diplomats as “very outrageous.”

The rule change comes amid a deteriorating U.S.-Chinese relationship and a tariff war over American complaints about Beijing’s trade surplus and technology ambitions.

Chinese diplomats would be required to report contacts with American educators, researchers and local and state governments under the rule announced Wednesday.

Branstad said by contrast, American diplomats face a more restrictive system that requires them to apply for permission for such contacts, which he said often is refused.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry said Beijing has a “positive attitude” toward cooperation with the United States and expressed hope Branstad could clarify what restrictions he was talking about.

“We hope that on this issue, the United States will face facts and facilitate normal people-to-people exchanges between the two sides, instead of setting up obstacles, let alone making unfounded countercharges,” said the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.

In Australia, individuals and businesses that try to influence politics or the government for a foreign country have been required to register since December. That followed a government report that found China’s Communist Party has tried over the past decade to influence Australian policy, compromise political parties and gain access to government.

Branstad said American diplomats have been blocked from meeting with Chinese law enforcement and other officials and requests to visit universities have been refused. The ambassador said when he and other diplomats planned to visit a coffee shop in the western province of Qinghai during a trip to Tibet, officials visited the shop in advance and ordered employees and customers not to talk to the Americans.

“The State Department finally came to the opinion that to try to improve our access we need to show some reciprocity,” Branstad told reporters.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.