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China Hits Out on US Visa Restrictions 12/03 06:13

   China on Thursday accused critics in the U.S. government of "an escalation 
of political suppression" against Beijing following a report of new visa 
restrictions on members of China's ruling Communist Party and their immediate 
family members.

   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Thursday accused critics in the U.S. government of 
"an escalation of political suppression" against Beijing following a report of 
new visa restrictions on members of China's ruling Communist Party and their 
immediate family members.

   Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China would "make 
representations" to the U.S. following the report Thursday in the New York 
Times that such people would be limited to one-month, single-entry visas.

   Hua called Washington's approach "totally inconsistent with the U.S.'s own 
interests," and said it would damage America's global image.

   "I think it is obvious to all that this is an escalation of political 
suppression by some extreme anti-China forces in the U.S. out of strong 
ideological prejudice and deep-rooted Cold War mentality against China," Hua 
said at a daily briefing.

   The Times report could not immediately be confirmed, but follows earlier 
hints that Washington was planning such a move, possibly even including a total 
ban on all 92 million Communist Party members. It wasn't clear how the 
restrictions would be enforced since many members do not play active public 
roles in the party's institutions.

   The restrictions would be the latest punitive measure taken against China's 
leadership and economy amid sharpening disputes over human rights, the 
coronavirus pandemic, trade, technology, Taiwan and a host of other issues.

   On Wednesday, the U.S. said it would block imports from a major Chinese 
producer of cotton goods because of its reliance on workers detained as part of 
a crackdown on ethnic minorities in China's northwest.

   Washington has already slapped travel bans and financial sanctions on 
officials connected to the crackdown on Uighurs and other Chinese Muslim groups 
in Xinjiang, as well as on Chinese and Hong Kong officials it accuses of 
restricting social and political rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese city 
through the implementation of a harsh new national security law.

   Diplomatic ties hit a low point over the summer when the U.S. ordered the 
closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston and China responded by demanding 
the U.S. vacate its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

   Washington had been loosening restrictions on travel by Chinese to the U.S., 
seeking to take advantage of the lavish spending habits of China's newly 
wealthy. Beginning in 2014, Chinese travelers --- whether party members or not 
--- became eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for 10 years, with stays of 
180 days allowed for each entry, while students were permitted visas good for 
five years. China reciprocated with similar treatment for U.S. citizens.

   Chinese who make up the single largest group of foreign students at American 
universities have already complained of tougher conditions for obtaining or 
extending visas. Chinese academics have also faced greater scrutiny, while 
dozens of journalists with state media have been forced to return home and visa 
restrictions placed on those remaining, prompting retaliation from Beijing.

   Analysts have long speculated that President Donald Trump will impose 
harsher measures on China before leaving office on Jan. 20, placing 
President-elect Joe Biden in a bind in managing the increasingly fractious 
relationship.

 
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