China is implementing limits on U.S. officials’ traveling to Hong Kong in response to visa restrictions on Chinese officials announced by the State Department last week.
According to The Associated Press, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that U.S. diplomatic passport holders visiting Hong Kong and nearby Macao will temporarily no longer be allowed to enter without a visa.
Hua added the “reciprocal sanctions” apply to U.S. administration officials, congressional staffers, employees of non-governmental organizations and their immediate family members.
This comes after the State Department announced last week that it would be barring travel and financial dealings in the U.S. by certain Chinese and Hong Kong officials in response to their roles in implementing a National Security Law that led to a crackdown on opposition groups in Hong Kong.
Hua claimed that the new restrictions from China came “given that the U.S. side is using the Hong Kong issue to seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s core interests,” adding that those sanctioned “have performed egregiously and are primarily responsible on the Hong Kong issue,” the AP reported.
“China once again urges the U.S. side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and not go further down the wrong and dangerous path,” the spokesperson added.
On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions targeting officials of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and individuals active in the United Front Work Department.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long sought to spread Marxist-Leninist ideology and exert its influence all over the world,” the secretary said in his statement.
Pompeo’s announcement followed a report in The New York Times that the visa restrictions on Chinese officials were being reduced from 10-year entry visas to one-month, single-entry passes.
China’s Foreign Ministry, responding to the Times report, called the restrictions an “escalation of political suppression” and founded on “extremist anti-China forces in the United States” acting “out of strong ideological bias and deep-seated Cold-War mentality.”
On Monday, Pompeo announced the State Department would be sanctioning 14 vice chairs of China’s National People’s Congress, Beijing’s top legislature, labeling them as specially designated nationals.
The move, which came in response to Beijing’s crackdown on opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong, bars travel to the U.S. for the officials and their immediate family.
The sanctions also freeze any assets they hold in the U.S. and blocks American individuals from interacting with the individuals and their assets.