US restricts visas of Chinese officials suspected of human rights abuses

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US is holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for repressing Chinese people.

US Dollar banknotes folded in the passport of China.

US Dollar banknotes folded in the passport of China. Source: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

The United States imposed additional restrictions on visas for Chinese officials suspected of human rights abuses, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced, the latest such curbs amid high tensions with Beijing.

The new restrictions concern “Chinese officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labour organisers, civil society organisers and peaceful protestors,” Mr Pompeo said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on China at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Source: EPA

Family members of the officials could also be targeted, he said.

Washington has already increased visa restrictions against Chinese officials and students in recent months, often in a targeted manner, as part of its campaign against Beijing, which has become its main strategic adversary.

The State Department has cancelled visas for more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers suspected of espionage.

US entry has been banned for Chinese officials allegedly involved in the mass internment of the country’s Muslim Uighur minority, or involved in the crackdown in Hong Kong.

The State Department has also drastically restricted US entry for members of the Chinese Communist Party.

The move “demonstrates the US government’s resolve to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its increasing repression against the Chinese people,” Mr Pompeo said in the statement.

“China’s authoritarian rulers impose draconian restrictions on the Chinese people’s freedoms of expression, religion or belief, association, and the right to peaceful assembly.

"The United States has been clear that perpetrators of human rights abuses like these are not welcome in our country.”

The Chinese government responded to the visa restrictions implemented earlier this month by announcing it would revoke visa exemptions for US diplomatic passport holders visiting Hong Kong and Macau, including members of Congress, personnel at non-governmental organisations, and family.

“China once again urges the United States to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs, and not to go further down the wrong and dangerous path,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference on 11 December.

Published 22 December 2020 at 7:37am
Source: AFP - SBS