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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions against Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials in response to China’s moves to impose control over the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.
“Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, as guaranteed in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, or undermining human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong,” Pompeo said in a press statement Friday.
Pompeo said family members of restricted CCP officials may also see their travel visas restricted.
“President @realDonaldTrump promised to punish the CCP officials responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms. Today, we are taking action to do just that– we’ve announced visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights,” Pompeo tweeted.
President @realDonaldTrump promised to punish the CCP officials responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms. Today, we are taking action to do just that– we’ve announced visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 26, 2020
China has signalled in recent days that it is close to passing its new set of “national security” laws over the city of Hong Kong. The full details of China’s legislative expansion over Hong Kong are not yet known, but the legislation already includes a requirement for the city’s police force to establish a national security department. Some cases brought before the department would be handled directly from Beijing.
Another measure in the Chinese security legislation over Hong Kong requires those seeking public offices to pledge to uphold the legislation before they can register as candidates.
“The United States calls on China to honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration – namely that Hong Kong will ‘enjoy a high degree of autonomy’ and that human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, will be protected by law and respected by governing authorities in Hong Kong,” Pompeo said in the conclusion of his statement. “Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the full implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as well as respect for human rights, are of fundamental importance. The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these concerns.”
The State Department decision to suspend visas for CCP officials comes one day after the U.S. Senate voted by unanimous consent on a bill to impose sanctions on Chinese officials and entities involved in imposing the new rules over Hong Kong. The bill would also sanction banks and financial institutions that conduct “significant transactions” with the other sanctioned parties. The Senate bill now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration and may then go to President Donald Trump.