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U.S. Clamps Travel Restrictions On Chinese U.N. Employees

March 8, 1989

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Chinese U.N. employees may not travel farther than 25 miles from midtown Manhattan on personal business, a restriction also applied to other communist nations, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

About 100 Chinese citizens are covered by the new regulation. U.N. Headquarters in New York employs a total of about 13,500 people.

The Reagan administration notified the United Nations of the restriction on Jan. 19. The rule took effect Jan. 26.

The Soviet Union, China and other communist countries apply similar restrictions to U.S. visitors to their country to curb espionage activity.

″Certain travel restrictions are applied for reasons of national security to secretariat and mission personnel from some member states,″ said Patricia M. Byrne, a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

″In no way, however, is official travel by or on behalf of the United Nations affected, nor are impediments imposed on mission or secretariat personnel to or from the headquarters district.″

Miss Byrne was speaking before the Committee on Relations with the Host Country, answering criticism from the Chinese Mission and from U.N. legal advisers.

″The restriction was not related to any bilateral issue,″ said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

″It was just a matter of standardizing the policy, adding China to a list that includes the Soviet Union and East bloc, Cuba, Afghanistan and the PLO,″ as well as Vietnam, Laos and Libya, he said.

The Palestine Liberation Organization and the radical North African Arab nation of Libya were accused in the past by Washington of supporting terrorism.

The United States and China gradually have been tightening restrictions on each other’s diplomats since 1984, when a U.S. consulate opened in the northeast Chinese city of Shenyang, near the North Korean border.

The small U.S. staff there was forbidden from traveling outside city limits by car, although they could leave on planes or trains. Many military industries are located nearby.

In October, after issuing warnings to China, the State Department restricted Chinese diplomats at the consulate in Chicago from driving outside Cook County by car.

Last November, China told U.S. diplomats in Shanghai and Shenyang they would have to get permission 48 hours in advance to leave the cities by any means.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar has repeatedly protested such restrictions on U.N. staff members ″solely on the basis of their nationality.″

The center of the restricted zone is Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park.

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