(ATF) President Donald Trump’s administration has issued rules to restrict travel to the United States by members of China’s ruling Communist Party and their families, in another move to attack China before he leaves office in January.
The policy reduces the maximum length of non-immigrant business and tourist visas for party members and their immediate family members from 10 years to one month, the US State Department said in a statement on Thursday December 3.
The measure was aimed at protecting the nation from the party’s “malign influence,” it said.
It said the party, which has more than 90 million members, “sends agents to the United States to unabashedly monitor, threaten, and report on Chinese nationals and Chinese-American groups.”
The Trump administration has sought to cement the outgoing president’s tough-on-China legacy, and relations between the world’s two largest economies have sunk to their lowest point in decades.
China’s foreign ministry denounced the move.
“This clearly is an escalated form of political oppression towards China by some extreme anti-China forces in the US who act out of intense ideological bias and a deep-rooted Cold War mentality,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, according to Reuters.
It was the latest step against what Washington calls Chinese influence operations in the United States and comes less then two months before President-elect Joe Biden is due to take office.
Washington and Beijing have also clashed over China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, its tightening grip on Hong Kong, its disputed claims in the South China Sea, trade and accusations of human rights crimes in Xinjiang.
Cotton imports banned
On Wednesday, the Trump administration expanded economic pressure on China’s western region of Xinjiang, banning cotton imports from a Chinese quasi-military organisation that it says uses the forced labor of detained Uighur Muslims.
Also on Wednesday, top US security officials said more than 1,000 Chinese researchers had left the United States amid a US crackdown on alleged technology theft and that Chinese agents had already been targeting the incoming Biden administration. China called these charges “ludicrous.”
In another move on Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a law to push Chinese companies off US stock exchanges if they do not fully comply with the country’s auditing rules.
The United States is also poised to add China’s top chipmaker SMIC and national offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC to a blacklist of alleged Chinese military-linked companies, curbing their access to US investors.
The new visa guidelines allow American officials to determine someone’s party status based on their application and interview.
Immigration experts say the new restrictions will not mean much until a Covid-related ban on travellers from China issued by Trump in January is lifted, Reuters reported.
Only 61 business and tourist visas were issued to mainland Chinese nationals in October, compared with more than 60,000 in the same month last year, according to State Department figures.