China, US Trade Tit-for-Tat Visa Curbs Over Tibet

July 8, 2020 Updated: July 8, 2020

BEIJING/WASHINGTON—China said on July 8 it will impose visa restrictions on U.S. citizens, after the United States imposed visas restrictions on Chinese officials who limit foreigners’ access to Tibet.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 7 that the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials because Beijing obstructs travel to Tibet by U.S. diplomats, journalists, and tourists, in addition to “human rights abuses” in the Himalayan region.

The moves come as relations between the United States deteriorate over trade, technology, the coronavirus pandemic, and the former British colony of Hong Kong.

The United States has engaged in “egregious” behavior over Tibet, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing, and “should stop going further down the wrong path to avoid further harming China–U.S. relations.”

China sent troops into remote, mountainous Tibet in 1950 and has ruled there with an iron fist ever since.

Pompeo said in a statement that the United States remained committed to supporting “meaningful autonomy” for Tibetans and respect for their fundamental human rights.

“Access to Tibetan areas is increasingly vital to regional stability, given the PRC [People’s Republic of China]’s human rights abuses there, as well as Beijing’s failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers,” Pompeo said.

“Today I am announcing visa restrictions on PRC government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be ‘substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas,'” he said.

U.S.–China relations have reached their lowest point in years since the coronavirus pandemic that began in China hit the United States hard.

Pompeo said last week the new national security law that the Chinese regime has imposed on Hong Kong, despite the territory’s guarantee of wide-ranging autonomy, was an affront to all nations.

By Mohammad Zargham