(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has issued rules to restrict travel to the United States by Chinese Communist Party members and their families, the State Department said in a statement on Thursday.
The policy reduces the maximum validity length of B1/B2 visitor visas for party members and their immediate family members from 10 years to 1 month, the statement said.
The measure was aimed at protecting the nation from the party’s “malign influence,” the statement said, adding the party works to “influence Americans through propaganda, economic coercion, and other nefarious activities.”
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.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded at a news briefing on Thursday, saying: “This clearly is an escalated form of political oppression towards China by some extreme anti-China forces in the U.S. who act out of intense ideological bias and a deep-rooted Cold War mentality.”
Washington and Beijing have 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.
Last week, Reuters reported the United States was poised to add China’s top chipmaker SMIC and national offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC to a blacklist of alleged Chinese military companies, curbing their access to U.S. investors.
News of the restrictions was first reported by The New York Times. The new visa guidelines allow American officials to determine someone’s party status based on their application and interview, the paper reported.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington D.C., Derek Francis and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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