China announced on Wednesday that it would curb American citizens who “behave badly” on Tibet-related issues from receiving visas. The restriction is a response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s announcement a day earlier that the US will impose travel bans on Chinese officials it says are restricting foreigners’ access to Tibet.
Today I announced visa restrictions on PRC officials involved in restricting foreigners’ access to Tibet. We will continue to seek reciprocity in our relationship.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 7, 2020
Pompeo restricted visas to Chinese officials that were determined to be “substantially involved” in the exclusion of foreigners from Tibetan areas. The US State Department declined to name or say how many officials the visa restrictions would affect, citing US confidentiality laws.
The restrictions fall under a 2018 law passed by Congress that aims to pressure China over its tight restrictions in the Himalayan region, which have only escalated since the law’s initial passing.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian expressed China’s “firm opposition” to the visa restrictions and urged Washington to “immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs through Tibet-related issues.”
Washington earlier increased visa restrictions on China amid high tensions over Hong Kong’s newly imposed national security law and the incarceration of approximately one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic minorities.
Although the US has taken the most recent action against China, other countries and NGOs have also spoken out against China’s treatment of Tibet and have placed restrictions on Chinese officials.