China-US visa spat escalates as relations sour further

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Amid an ongoing tit-for-tat spat between China and the US, Beijing has responded to US visa sanctions imposed on members of the Chinese Communist Party by Washington. China has said that it is removing visa exemption rights for US diplomatic passport holders visiting Hong Kong and Macau.


China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said: “Beijing will also implement reciprocal sanctions against some US officials, members of Congress, personnel at non-governmental organisations, and their family members, over their ‘vile’ behaviour on Hong Kong.”

The USA became the latest country to offer Hong Kong nationals a route out of the territory amid national security laws imposed by China. The US House of Representatives recently voted to ‘open its doors’ to Hong Kong citizens facing persecution.


China warns USA

However, China has warned the USA against such action. Hua said: “China is urging the United States not to go further down this dangerous and mistaken path.”

Hua did not disclose the names of US diplomatic passport holders who would no longer be eligible for visa exemptions or when the sanctions would start.

China-US relations have sunk to an all-time low under the Trump administration, and the outgoing President is now seeking to cement his ‘tough-on-China’ legacy and force President-elect, Joe Biden, to take a similar hardline stance toward China.

Several US visa sanctions have been imposed on China, the most recent of which targeted members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In September, the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers were also revoked over alleged Human Rights abuses.

Meanwhile back in July, US visa sanctions were imposed on China over Hong Kong security laws. There have also been a number of financial and trade restrictions exchanged between the two powerhouse nations as tensions between Beijing and Washington rise.


Obama administration

US-China relations under the Trump administration are a far cry from those seen under Obama. The Obama administration engineered a reciprocal 10-year tourist visa agreement between China and the US, which is now under threat amid increasing tensions. CCP members were recently restricted to one-month entry into the US on a visit visa.

China has described the USA’s recent actions as ‘part of a deep-rooted Cold War mentality.’ Meanwhile, US officials said that the latest US visa sanctions against China were ‘necessary for protecting US interests against the CCP’s malign influence.’


Biden challenges

What is clear is that incoming US President, Joe Biden, faces serious challenges in restoring US-Chinese relations. It’s been mooted that the US visa policy imposed on CCP members will be reviewed.

Director of the China Power Project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, Bonnie Glaser, said: “I doubt that this particular policy will be reviewed in isolation. 

“Rather, I think there will be discussions between the United States and China about visa restrictions on journalists, visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party members, and how we go about creating more reciprocity.”

Biden has pledged to reverse many of Trump’s controversial US visa and immigration restrictions, but it’s currently unclear whether this will include visa sanctions imposed on China. can help with US employment-based visas

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