China says ‘no clue’ on mystery illness striking US diplomats
Washington/Beijing, June 7 (PTI): The US is evacuating several diplomats from China amid concerns that they were suffering from a mysterious illness similar to those reported by its personnel in Cuba, even as Beijing today said it has investigated and found “no clue” about the sound attacks.
The US move comes after the State Department recently received medical confirmation that one of the US government employees had suffered a medical incident in China that was consistent with what an American personnel in Havana, Cuba had experienced.
The worker at its Consulate in Guangzhou had experienced a “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure,” the state department said.
Thereafter, it deployed a medical team to Guangzhou to conduct a medical screening of all US government employees and family members who requested it.
The medical screenings are ongoing for any personnel who have noted concerning symptoms or wanted baseline screening, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“As a result of the screening process so far, the department has sent a number of individuals for further evaluation and a comprehensive assessment of their symptoms and findings in the United States,” she said.
“The US medical professionals will continue to conduct full evaluations to determine the cause of the reported symptoms and whether the findings are consistent with those noted in previously affected government personnel or possibly completely unrelated,” Nauert said.
Reacting to the reports of the mysterious sound attacks on the US diplomats, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing today that Beijing had investigated the May 23 allegation and found no clue.
“Relevant authorities of China have conducted investigations and given the feedback to the US. We haven’t found the cause or the clues that led to the situation mentioned by the US,” she said.
“For the latest incident according to my information, the US hasn’t conducted any communication with China. We learnt this from the report of the New York Times. I am not aware of the relevant information.
If there is really some problem, US can directly connect and communicate with China and China will adopt a responsible attitude to investigate this,” she said.
She said China followed the Vienna convention to protect diplomatic staff of the US and other countries. The evacuation of the US diplomats with mysterious illness comes at a time when the relations between Beijing and Washington were going through a tense phase as the two countries grappled to avert a trade war.
Recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the Health Incidents Task Force, which serves as the coordinating body for the State Department and other US government agencies.
The task force will continue to address the unexplained health incidents that have affected US government personnel and their family members stationed overseas, Nauert said.
Last month, the State Department issued a travel warning after a US employee in China reported “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure”. This was consistent with symptoms experienced by some US personnel in Cuba.