China announces visa restriction countermeasures on US personnel over HK issues

By Chen Qingqing and Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/29 17:45:35

Photo:VCG HK

The Chinese government will impose visa restrictions on personnel from the US who have "behaved badly" on Hong Kong-related issues,  Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a routine press conference on Monday. 

The decision was announced following growing pressure from the US government on China over Hong Kong, as the US Senate recently passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. The latest act calls for mandatory sanctions against any person responsible for "undermining Hong Kong's autonomy."

Hong Kong's national security issues are purely China's internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere in them, Zhao said. The determination of the Chinese government to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests is unshakeable, as is its determination to fully implement the "one country, two systems", and it firmly objects to any foreign interference in Hong Kong matters, Zhao told the press conference. 

"The US attempt to block China's efforts to advance the national security legislation for Hong Kong through so-called sanctions is doomed to fail," the spokesperson said. 

Given the above-mentioned wrongdoings from the US side, the Chinese government decided to slap visa restrictions on personnel from the US who have behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues, Zhao noted. 

When asked who would be targeted by China's new countermeasures, the spokesperson remarked that the relevant people know exactly who they are. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday visa restrictions on incumbent and former Chinese officials "responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong's freedoms," and their family members may also be affected. What Pompeo said  drew a backlash from the Chinese side, as authorities including both the Chinese Embassy in the US and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have voiced strong oppositions to the act. 

China's visa restrictions serve as a warning to the US, as the two sides are currently engaged in a diplomatic game. But if the US takes concrete steps, China will definitely respond in kind, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Pompeo, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell and major sponsors of Hong Kong-related acts could be on the list of China's visa restriction countermeasures, according to Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

The Hong Kong Autonomy Act was introduced by Chris Van Hollen, Democratic senator of Maryland, and was co-sponsored by some major American hawks who have long held a hostile attitude toward China, such as Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton. 

Also on the list could be some people from the US consulate general in Hong Kong, such as Julie Eadeh, political unit chief of the consulate general, who frequently met with leaders of violent Hong Kong rioters including Joshua Wong and Martin Lee Chu-ming, Li said. 

These are just people on the "frontline," and some senior US officials who are directing from behind the "frontline" could also be on the list, Li said. 

However, experts said that details of China's countermeasures depended on the US, and those countermeasures will not exceed US restrictions or sanctions against China in scale and intensity, as China will not actively escalate the situation. 

Lü said that the Trump administration is unlikely to further expand sanctions on China, as it knows that expanding the China-US conflict will do no good to its election campaign and ultimately its interests will be hurt. Financial sanctions against China will greatly hurt the US' own interests in Hong Kong, he added. 

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