Pompeo imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over ‘intimidation’ tactics
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday announced new visa restrictions on Chinese officials that he says are involved in intimidation tactics against the U.S., listing a broad range of threatening activities against Americans and domestic institutions.
The visa restrictions target officials of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and individuals active in the United Front Work Department, Pompeo said in a statement.
The United Front Work Department is a central committee of the CCP that the U.S. says is responsible for coordinating domestic and foreign influence operations through propaganda and manipulation.
“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.
He added that the United Front intimidates members of academia, businesses, civil society groups and Chinese diaspora communities with harsh and threatening tactics including releasing personal details and targeting individuals and their family members online as a means of political intimidation.
Other tactics the secretary highlighted include any Chinese official who engages in “the use or threat of physical violence, theft and release of private information, espionage, sabotage, or malicious interference in domestic political affairs, academic freedom, personal privacy, or business activity,” Pompeo said in his statement.
The restrictions can include denial of a visa outright for any individual found to have engaged in such activities and visa restrictions on family members of identified individuals. The State Department does not usually identify individuals who come under visa restrictions.
Pompeo’s announcement follows a report in The New York Times on Thursday 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 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.”
U.S.-China relations are at a low point, and Pompeo’s actions come amid greater calls from both Republicans and Democrats for the U.S. to confront China’s aggressive and provocative actions on the world stage.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe warned in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that China is the number one national security threat to the U.S. and that Beijing intends to “dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and politically.”
President-elect Joe Biden has called for engaging allies in a coherent strategy in addressing China but signaled a tough approach to Beijing, saying that Chinese leader Xi Jinping will need to play by “international rules” for engagement with the U.S.