US tightens the screws on Beijing, restricts visas for Chinese officials
Friday’s restrictions come just days after Donald Trump signed off on a legislation that clears the path for sanctions against senior Chinese officials for human rights violations of Uyghur minority groups in Xinjiang region.
The United States is imposing visa restrictions on current and former Chinese officials responsible for “eviscerating” the freedoms of Hong Kong citizens, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday, signalling that the US would continue to tighten controls vis-a-vis the Chinese government officials. The move coincides with an intensified US rhetoric against China in the midst of Trump’s re-election campaign, in which opinion polls have shown voters increasingly embittered toward Beijing, especially over the coronavirus that began from China’s Wuhan.
“I am announcing visa restrictions on current and former CCP (Communist Party of China) officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, as guaranteed in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, or undermining human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong,” Pompeo said in a statement Friday.
Pompeo said family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.
Also Read: China, the common link between Ladakh and 3 US super carriers in the Indo-Pacific
Friday’s restrictions come just days after US President Donald Trump signed off on a legislation that cleared the path for imposing sanctions against senior Chinese officials for gross human rights violations of Uyghur minority groups in China’s restive Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.
On Twitter, Pompeo counted the visa restrictions as one of the steps to punish CCP officials “responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms” that had been promised by President Trump.
President Trump had earlier promised sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials “directly or indirectly involved” in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy.“Our actions will be strong. Our actions will be meaningful,” Trump said in May.
“Today, we are taking action to do just that– we’ve announced visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights,” Pompeo tweeted on Friday.
News agency Bloomberg said Friday’s move comes amid worsening ties between the world’s two biggest economies. Despite meetings that Pompeo held with his Chinese counterpart in Hawaii last week, relations remain soured over issues from China’s handling of the coronavirus to its move to enact legislation restricting Hong Kong and its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province.
Just two days back, the Pentagon published a list of 20 Chinese companies said to be owned or controlled by China’s military, potentially exposing them to further scrutiny or sanctions in the US.
Also Read: Chinese ambassador in United States secretly recruited scientists, says FBI
On Thursday, the Senate approved a bipartisan measure that penalises banks doing business with Chinese officials involved in the national security law the country is seeking to impose on Hong Kong.
The hard push comes in response to moves by China to impose a new national security legislation that would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and put pressure on local officials to jail pro-democracy activists and bar them from contesting elections.
Last month, US President Trump initiated the process to eliminate special economic treatment that allowed Hong Kong to remain a global financial center.