China has accused the US of being “pathetic” amid reports that Washington is considering a sweeping visa ban on Communist party members, in the latest exchange amid souring bilateral ties.
The New York Times said President Donald Trump is reportedly reviewing a proposal to refuse entry for all members of China’s ruling party – although it is still in draft form and could be rejected.
The Chinese Communist Party has 92 million members and how a ban would be enforced is uncertain.
US-China ties have become increasingly strained over a wide range of issues.
The US this week removed Hong Kong’s preferential trade status, after China brought in a controversial new security law for the territory.
President Trump has also criticised China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as well as its military build-up in the South China Sea, its treatment of Muslim minorities and massive trade surpluses.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called the reported visa ban idea “very pathetic” for the world’s “strongest power”.
“We hope the US will refrain from doing more things that disdain the basic norms governing international relations and undermine its reputation, credibility and status as a major country,” she told reporters.
More broadly she said: “We know that some in the US are oppressing China and bullying China. As an independent sovereign state, China must respond to the bullying practices and we must say no, we must… take reactive moves to it.”
The ban would stop members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families from visiting the US and could possibly expel some people already in the country, the paper says.
Officials at state-owned enterprises and of the People’s Liberation Army could also be affected, although many would also be party members.
The Times itself says the plans have not been finalised and the president could dismiss them, and that the White House and the State Department had declined to comment.
The president could use the Immigration and Nationality Act, under which travellers from a number of mostly Muslim countries were banned in 2017.
The Times also points out that the US has no knowledge of Communist Party membership, making enforcement difficult, and that although three million Chinese visited the US last year, the numbers have evaporated amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The US currently bans arrivals of foreign nationals who have visited China in the past 14 days with “specific exceptions”.
Analysts say any travel ban imposed by the US would almost certainly prompt retaliatory action on Americans visiting China.
The Communist Party is the country’s sole, ruling political party. It controls the highest functions of government, through the National Congress, but also reaches far down into lower-level administration.
About 7% of the population are members of the party – loyal membership is essential for anyone who wants to climb the career ladder – whether in politics, business or even entertainment.
That even goes for people like e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Jack Ma, telecomm company Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei or celebrities like actress Fan Bingbing. (Source: BBC)