Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that U.S He was imposing visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.
The move comes ahead of a Chinese parliament meeting next week that is expected to enact new national security legislation for Hong Kong that has alarmed foreign governments and democracy activists in the special administrative region.
The US visa restrictions apply to “current and former CCP officials believed to be responsible or complicit in undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” Pompeo said without naming them.
. @ SecPompeo announced visa restrictions for Chinese Communist Party officials involved in undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States asks the CCP to keep its promises. https://t.co/1BchrYscxG.
– Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) June 26, 2020
Last month, President Donald Trump responded to China’s new legislation by announcing a process to remove the special economic treatment that has allowed Hong Kong to remain a global financial center.
Pompeo’s announcement represents the United States’ first concrete step in response to China’s movements.
America’s rhetoric against Beijing intensified during Trump’s reelection campaign. Opinion polls have found that voters are increasingly bitter towards China, especially in the coronavirus outbreak, which started in that country.
“President Trump promised to punish Chinese Communist Party officials who were responsible for disemboweling Hong Kong’s freedoms. Today, we are taking steps to do just that,” Pompeo said.
He said China had stepped up efforts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy through legislation and pressuring local authorities to arrest pro-democracy activists and disqualify pro-democracy electoral candidates.
“The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these concerns,” he said.
The law is expected to be enacted by the decision-making body of China’s parliament at a three-day meeting that will begin on Sunday.
On Thursday, the Republican-majority Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals or companies that support efforts to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The measure includes secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone who supports any offensive against territory autonomy, which could exclude them from US counterparts and limit access to transactions in US dollars.
Chinese law aims to address separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, although it is unclear what activities would constitute such crimes and what would be the penalties. China says it will target only a small group of troublemakers.
Reuters news agency