The United States on Monday issued additional visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials believed to have engaged in human rights abuses, including cracking down on freedoms of speech and belief.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement the restrictions affect officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in repressing religious practitioners, ethnic minority groups, dissidents, and others.
“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,” Pompeo said.
Various religious and dissident groups are repressed by China’s communist regime, including house Christians, practitioners of Falun Gong, monks in Tibet, and Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Pompeo said the United States “stands with the many individuals persecuted for their peaceful efforts to exercise their rights,” and named several victims by name.
“Lawyers such as Xu Zhiyong, house church pastors such as Wang Yi, civil society activists such as Huang Qi, Uyghur academics such as Ilham Tohti, democracy advocates like Jimmy Lai,” Pompeo said.
Earlier this year, the United States imposed visa restrictions and financial sanctions on CCP officials involved in abuses taking place in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. The action Pompeo announced on Monday creates additional restrictions that are applicable to all CCP officials engaged in a number of repressive activities, no matter their location.
“I am announcing the imposition of additional restrictions under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act on the issuance of visas for 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, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors,” Pompeo said.
Family members of CCP officials who engage in such practices may also be subject to the additional restrictions, Pompeo said.
It follows a State Department announcement on Dec. 3, which saw the Trump administration place restrictions on the ability of CCP members and their families to travel to the United States, reducing the maximum duration of stay from 10 years to one month. The policy change relates to CCP members and their immediate families who hold B1/B2 visitor visas, which are for non-immigrants traveling for business or tourist purposes.
Currently, there are around 92 million Communist Party members in China.
China-U.S. ties have grown increasingly antagonistic over the past year as the world’s top two economies sparred over Beijing’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong, and rising tensions in the South China Sea.
Reuters contributed to this report.