China on Monday dismissed a media report claiming that Beijing had threatened to detain U.S. academics in China in retaliation for the United States’ arrest of Chinese researchers.
Law-abiding foreigners have nothing to worry about in China regarding their safety, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
The dismissal came in response to a report by the Wall Street Journal claiming Chinese officials had warned U.S. counterparts of impending detainment of U.S. academics.
Sources told the Journal that Chinese officials had warned U.S. government representatives through multiple channels about the possible arrest of U.S. academics.
The threat reportedly came in retaliation for the arrests in the U.S. earlier this year of five Chinese academics suspected of concealing their ties with the People’s Liberation Army.
The report said the academics had been detained in connection with the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston in July, whereupon China responded by closing the U.S. consulate in Chengdu.
China has detained Canadian, Swedish and Australian citizens in recent years under charges their governments said were bogus.
The U.S. State Department in September advised Americans to avoid travel to China, citing arbitrary detention as one of a number of threats.
Ministry spokesman Zhao said the U.S. had monitored, harassed, and arrested Chinese students in the country in acts that amounted to political persecution.
“This is not moral and is destructive to the U.S’ image. This is McCarthyism,’’ he added.