After the story broke in outlets like Vice and the Washington Post, the two sides agreed that the gross violation of dignity had occurred “in error.”
Nonetheless, officials were worried enough about China continuing the practice that they were compelled to issue further clarification.
“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it,” a spokesperson told VICE World News on Wednesday.
For its part, China maintained that it was the US officials who had insisted upon the unconventional screening method.
“We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past,” the Chinese government said in a statement.
Chinese Foreign Ministry official Zhao Lijian later claimed that “China has never requested US diplomatic personnel in China to undergo anal swabs.”
The exchange doesn’t bode well for the prospects of maintaining a strong hand with the country, which is exerting an ever-more aggressive posture over human-rights abuses, territorial claims and other delicate matters that could require the diplomats’ undivided attention.
It’s no secret that China is eager to push the “reset” button on trans-Pacific relations after enduring former president Donald Trump’s trade wars and hectoring over its role in unleashing the deadly pandemic on the world.
Intelligence reports signaled that the Chinese government had expressed its strong “preference” for Biden in the 2020 election—although the lengths to which it went to secure a Biden victory remain unclear.
It’s also no secret that China—with financial ties to Biden and several of his family members, as well as top officials on his Cabinet—holds all the chips when dealing with the Democrat administration.
During the days of his personal business relationship with state-run Chinese energy companies, Biden downplayed the Chinese threats to American sovereignty.
But he has since pivoted to a slightly less obsequious position, nominally offering a modicum of tough talk on occasion.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken—himself deeply indebted in the goodwill department to Chinese benefactors—even admitted earlier this month that Trump was largely correct in his approach for dealing with the Asian super-power.
Although the current diplomatic standoff may have left some critics of Biden’s compromised foreign policy with a sense of bemused Schadenfreude, the unsolicited rectal incursions also tragically echoed one of the massive failures that occurred during the Obama administration.
After the siege on the US Libyan Embassy in Benghazi, insurgents captured Ambassador Chris Stevens, whom they proceeded to torture and kill.
It was widely reported that Stevens had been anally raped before his body was dragged unceremoniously through the streets. However, it is unknown whether he was still alive at the time of the alleged abuses.