Sunday, 15 December 2019

China to restrict visas for US nationals

(Reuters)

SINGAPORE: China is planning tighter visa restrictions for US nationals with ties to anti-China groups, people with knowledge of the proposed curbs said, following similar US restrictions on Chinese nationals, as relations between the countries sour.

China’s Ministry of Public Security has for months been working on rules to limit the ability of anyone employed, or sponsored, by US intelligence services and human rights groups to travel to China.

The proposed changes follow the introduction by the United States of tighter rules for visas for Chinese scholars in May.

New US visa restrictions announced on Tuesday, on Chinese government and Communist Party officials, had bolstered the case for the new Chinese restrictions, one of the sources said.

“This is not something we want to do but we don’t seem to have any choice,” the source said.

The Chinese rules would mandate the drafting of a list of US military and CIA-linked institutions and rights groups, and the addition of their employees to a visa blacklist, according to the sources, who declined to be identified.

The tighter restrictions come amid heightened concern in Beijing that the United States and other governments are using such organisations to incite anti-government protests in both mainland China and Hong Kong, and would also be in retaliation for the US visa restrictions against Chinese researchers and officials, the first source said.

“The plan has been widely discussed by senior police officers over recent months, but made more likely to be implemented after the Hong Kong protests and the US visa ban on Chinese officials,” the source said.

China’s National Immigration Administration, which operates under the Ministry of Public Security, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

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