WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — Emails recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit indicate U.S. government officials were anxious to protect American diplomats working in China from being forced to submit to degrading and unnecessary “anal swab” tests for COVID-19, the Daily Caller reported Friday.
The emails were obtained by conservative foundation Judicial Watch after the group filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. State Department.
China has denied that it required U.S. diplomats to take the tests.
“It took six months and a federal lawsuit to confirm that our embassy in Beijing was concerned about the Chinese government’s invasive anal swab and other COVID testing of our diplomatic personnel — at [sic] that as many as two people were asked to submit to a test,” the foundation’s president Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Our diplomatic personnel were harassed in a reprehensible way by the Chinese government, and the Biden administration seems to have done little in response — except to cover it up.”
.@JudicialWatch lawsuit uncovers U.S. Embassy Beijing concerned diplomatic personnel asked to submit to anal swab COVID testing. Redacted docs show as many as two people were either asked or required to take an anal swab test for COVID by Chinese govt. https://t.co/KQSUSlW8GI
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) December 16, 2021
The emails obtained by the foundation spotlight the concerns expressed by U.S. diplomatic officials in China that they would be asked to undergo the demeaning form of testing to demonstrate they did not have the virus.
In one email dated January 25, 2021, the General Services Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing asked U.S. personnel whether “any health authority” in the communist country had “asked you or your spouse to conduct an anal swab test?”
“The [U.S.] embassy obviously does not authorize or permit this type of testing on diplomats but others have been asked so I need to verify everyone’s experience,” the embassy officer added, noting that “[f]or the record, our agreement is for nasal and/or throat swabs only.”
The U.S. official advised personnel that if they are asked to undergo any testing “that seems inappropriate,” to “please refuse and contact us immediately.”
The emails obtained by Judicial Watch include responses sent by U.S. officials in a separate email chain with the subject heading “FW: COVID TEST 21ST DAY,” reporting that the Chinese government had asked to conduct the invasive test.
“[REDACTED] being asked for anal swab and environmental test. [REDACTED] Can Housing contact [REDACTED] I’ll have VIP contact FAO ASAP,” one email in the thread reads, dated January 27, 2021.
In February, a State Department spokesman confirmed that U.S. diplomats in China had been subjected to the degrading anal swab tests. NBC reported that the department had lodged a protest with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs pushing back against the practice.
At the time China denied it was asking U.S. diplomats to submit to the invasive testing, with Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arguing that “China has never asked U.S. diplomats stationed in China to have anal swab tests.”
A State Department email obtained via the FOIA request stated that in March an official had “[j]ust checked with my contact from the PEK [Beijing International Capital Airport] customs” and confirmed that the “[a]irport only does nasal swab and throat swab.”
However the official also noted, “According to some Chinese social media, international travelers are required to get anal tests during centralized quarantine. It could happen on Day 3, Day 7, Day 14 or Day 21. Some people were tested once and some were twice. Samples were collected by medical staff or travelers themselves or from a fecal sample.”
The State Department responded to the Daily Caller’s request for comment on the matter, affirming that despite efforts to block the Chinese government from imposing the humiliating tests, some U.S. officials did undergo the swabs in what the State Department said was an “error.”
“The State Department never agreed to this method of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) when we learned that some U.S. Mission personnel were subjected to it,” a State Department spokesman said. “We have received assurances from the MFA that this testing was conducted in error and that diplomatic personnel are exempt from this requirement.”
It’s unclear whether the Chinese government was aware that the individuals who were subjected to the demeaning tests were U.S. diplomatic officials.
Chinese officials and some medical experts have claimed that the invasive tests are more effective than methods which merely swab the nose and throat, while opponents of the practice argue it’s an unnecessary invasion of personal privacy and dignity.