BY: AZRA RIZVI
The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said on Friday that Washington will be applying visa curbs on Chinese Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for diminishing freedoms in Hong Kong.
This announcement comes before a three-day meeting of China’s parliament from Sunday, which is expected to enact the new national security law for Hong Kong that has startled foreign governments and democracy activists.
Mr. Pompeo said that these visa limitations will be applied to “current and former” Chinese Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. However, he did not name any of them.
The Secretary of State said the move follows President Donald Trump’s promise to punish Beijing over a proposed security law that could destroy Hong Kong’s autonomy.
China has alarmed Hong Kong with its quick move to impose a national security law on the city which, many are distressed would curb its unique freedoms.
The security legislation proposed by China makes it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in Hong Kong, and could also lead to China installing its security agencies in the territory for the first time.
The move has triggered a new wave of anti-mainland protests in Hong Kong.
President Trump had responded to China’s plans last month by saying that he was starting a process of removing Hong Kong’s preferential economic treatment.
Mr. Pompeo’s statement on Friday comes after a recent vote by the US Senate to place sanctions on individuals who undermine Hong Kong’s freedom and the banks that do business with them.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said that it firmly opposed the US side’s “wrongful decisions.” The Chinese embassy posted a statement on Twitter urging the US side to immediately correct its mistakes, withdraw the decision, and stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs.