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US imposes visa restrictions against China

The US is imposing visa restrictions on Chinese officials in order to punish Beijing for alleged repression, intimidation and harassment of human rights activists and dissidents, both in China and around the world, the State Department said on Monday. As examples, Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited “genocide” of Uighurs and repression in Tibet and Hong Kong.

China is “attempting to intimidate, harass, and repress dissidents and human rights defenders inside and outside,” Blinken said, adding that “perpetrators of human rights abuses must continue to face consequences.”

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The US “rejects efforts by [People’s Republic of China] officials to harass, intimidate, surveil and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and US citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations,” Blinken said in a statement released by the State Department on Monday afternoon.

US sanctions target those officials “who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions” targeting these communities, activists, and civil society “in China and beyond,” the State Department said, adding, “We are committed to defending human rights around the world.”

As an example of China’s “transnational repression,” the US said Beijing was trying to silence Uighur activists “serving the American people” by denying permissions to their family members to leave China.

Washington urged Beijing to “end its ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, repressive policies in Tibet, crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Kong Kong,” and other abuses elsewhere.

The announcement comes after Friday’s call between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, in which Washington threatened China with “consequences” unless it disavowed Russia and joined the US-led embargo against Moscow. 

China is a sovereign country opposed to unilateral sanctions and reserves the right to defend its interests accordingly, the government in Beijing said in response. Xi told Biden that China stands for peace and against war and backed a diplomatic solution of the Ukraine conflict.

“All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace,” said the Chinese readout of the presidential phone conversation.

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