The United States has imposed additional visa restrictions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses, taking further action against China in the final month of President Donald Trump’s term.
It explained that the action followed China’s imposition of restrictions on its citizens fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, religion, and association.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that the restrictions affected officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in repressing religious practitioners, ethnic minority groups, dissidents and others in the country.
Through a statement released yesterday, Pompeo said that the US would not associate with any country trampling on its citizens’ fundamental rights.
“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,” he said in a statement.
U.S.-China relations have plunged to their worst level in decades as the world’s top two economies spar over issues ranging from the coronavirus outbreak, Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong, trade, and espionage.
On Friday, Washington added dozens of Chinese companies, including top chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp and drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, to a trade blacklist.
Also on Monday, U.S. Department of Homeland Security chief, Chad Wolf, said it was looking at further restrictions on China, which he called an ever-increasing threat to the United States.
Wolf told the Heritage Foundation think tank that these included tighter visa curbs on Chinese Communist Party members and a broader ban on goods made with forced labor. He said DHS was also reviewing the activities of Chinese television maker TCL Electronics Holdings.
Wolf noted that a State Department action this month to reduce the validity of U.S. visas for members of China’s ruling Communist Party to one month.
“We’re … working with State to consider further restrictions on visa validity periods for CCP members,” he added.
He said DHS was “continuing to develop and hoped to soon issue” a region-wide ban covering “key categories of products produced with forced labor” in China’s Xinjiang region.
Wolf did not elaborate, but he was apparently referring to a broad import ban on all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang that the Trump administration considered this year before opting for narrower bans on products from specific entities.
However, U.S. apparel makers have criticized a broader ban as impossible to enforce.
Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Wang Wenbin, while reacting to the new restrictions, said that the country would also be retaliating with stricter measures.
“We will take countermeasures in response. We will take measures against those who are responsible for harming our bilateral relations,” Wenbin told pressmen in Beijing on Tuesday.