The US is considering imposing a sweeping travel ban on members of the ruling Communist Party of China and their families, a move that could further exacerbate the bilateral tensions between the two countries.
The presidential proclamation, still in its draft form, could revoke visas for members of the Chinese Communist party as well as their families, according to the New York Times, citing four people familiar with the proposed travel ban.
The travel ban could apply to as many as 92 million party members and is sure to worsen the tensions between the two economic giants which are at loggerheads over several issues, including the coronavirus and China’s implementation of a controversial security law for Hong Kong.
Reuters news agency confirmed the report on Thursday, saying a draft presidential order had been circulated, but deliberations were at an early stage and the issue had not yet been brought to Trump.
The ban would be similar to the 2017 travel ban on Muslim-majority countries in giving the president the ability to prevent foreign nationals deemed “detrimental to the interests” of the US from entering the country.
The White House did not comment on the report on Thursday. On Wednesday, Trump said he had not ruled out additional sanctions on Chinese officials, following his signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, legislation meant to punish Beijing over its recent security law.
The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said on Wednesday the US would be placing visa restrictions on “certain employees” of Chinese technology firms including Huawei, but provided no details.
On Thursday, the US attorney general, William Barr, issued a lengthy denunciation of the Chinese party’s strategy to achieve economic, political and cultural domination – a strategy he said was being abetted by Hollywood, hi-tech corporations, and US business leaders lobbying on Beijing’s behalf.
He accused China of conducting “economic blitzkrieg – an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government, and indeed, whole-of-society campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower.”
“The ultimate ambition of China’s rulers isn’t to trade with the United States. It is to raid the United States. If you are an American business leader, appeasing the PRC may bring short-term rewards. But in the end, the PRC’s goal is to replace you,” Barr said in a speech delivered in Michigan.
Tensions between the countries have escalated in recent weeks over Hong Kong where Beijing has imposed a sweeping and controversial national security law.
China summoned the US ambassador, Terry Branstad, to make “solemn representations” over the Hong Kong legislation, calling it “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”. A statement from the Chinese foreign ministry said: “China will make the necessary response to the wrong actions of the US, including sanctions against US entities and individuals.”
In a statement late on Wednesday, China’s liaison office in Hong Kong said: “Unreasonable meddling and shameless threats by the United States are typical gangster logic and bullying.
“No external force can stop China’s determination to maintain national sovereignty and security for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.”
The two countries are engaged in tit-for-tat sparring over the treatment of respective media outlets, tariffs on goods, sanctions in relation to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as claims over the disputed South China Sea.
On Monday, the US state department declared such claims “completely unlawful”, siding with south-east Asian countries against Beijing.
After the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials involved in alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, Beijing announced its own set of sanctions on US lawmakers and officials. China has also said that it would sanction US arms firm Lockheed Martin over its role in the latest sale of missiles to Taiwan. (Source: The Guardian)