China rejects U.S. envoy's comment that it hinders people-to-people exchanges

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Blinken visits China

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's foreign ministry described as "far-fetched" on Wednesday remarks by U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, saying they deviated from key understandings reached by the presidents of both nations.

A Wall Street Journal report widely circulated by global media had said Burns accused Beijing of making people-to-people exchanges between the two countries "impossible".

"It is not in line with the correct way for China and the United States to get along with each other and is not conducive to the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations," foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular briefing.

Referring to a meeting in San Francisco last November at which Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed issues that had strained ties, Mao added:

"Ambassador Burns's remarks are not true and deviate from the important consensus reached by the two heads of state."

In excerpts of an interview published in the Wall Street Journal, Burns said mainland officials interfered in 61 public events organised by the U.S. embassy in Beijing since November.

They did this either by pressuring Chinese citizens to stay away or trying to intimidate those who did, he added.

"China has always developed its relations with the United States in accordance with the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation put forward by President Xi Jinping," Mao said.

"It is committed to promoting cultural exchanges between China and the United States."

(Reporting by Liz Lee, Ella Cao and Bernard Orr; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)