Trump administration imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials

Pro-China activists holding placards and flags hand over a petition at the US consulate general in Hong Kong- Washington has now imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials over curbs on the city's autonomy

US announces visa restrictions on Chinese officials for undermining autonomy of Hong Kong

The US on Friday issued a first wave of visa sanctions on current and former Chinese officials over efforts Washington says are meant to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy.

Critics say the law will effectively remove the freedoms that Hong Kong has enjoyed up to now.

Family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions, he said.

This action by the Trump administration comes at a time when tensions between the two countries are high due to the United States accusing China of birthing novel coronavirus, spreading it across the world and also hiding its coronavirus figures.

President Donald Trump announced punitive measures against China in late May, including steps to protect American investors from Chinese financial practices, and accused Beijing of "unlawfully claiming territory in the Pacific Ocean", threatening freedom of navigation and conducting "espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many".

In a related vote, the Senate also approved a measure stating that enactment of the bill would put the Beijing government in direct violation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty that ended British rule in Hong Kong and granted the city partial sovereignty in 1997.

"Legislating on national security is the power and obligation of the central government, and also an global practice", said the statement, adding that the Hong Kong national security legislation targets a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardise national security.

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong pay their respects in June 2020 to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of a man who took a fatal fall after hanging a banner against a now-withdrawn extradition bill that sparked mass protests (AFP
U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong autonomy: Pompeo

In May, Beijing announced a draft national security law ― which will bypass Hong Kong's legislature ― to tackle "terrorism" and "separatism" in a restless city it now regards as a direct national security threat.

Mr Trump has not publicly said if he would sign the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law, but in the past, he has criticised legislation that ties his hands.

"At the same time, Beijing continues to undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong by putting pressure on local authorities to arrest pro-democracy activists and disqualify pro-democracy electoral candidates", he said.

Pompeo said last week Washington would treat Hong Kong as a Chinese city rather than an autonomous one to the extent that China treated the territory as a Chinese city.

"We believe there are now very real fears of a human rights and humanitarian tragedy in Hong Kong", the former United Nations officials' statement said.

The announcement of the visa policy came a day after the US Senate passed a bill, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, that would place economic sanctions in the US on Chinese officials and Hong Kong police identified as working to damage Hong Kong's autonomous status.

The measure includes secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone backing any crackdown on the territory's autonomy, potentially cutting them off from American counterparts and limiting access to U.S. dollar transactions.

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