Washington has further restricted travel visas for Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members as tensions continue to mount between China and the United States, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
“The CCP and its members actively work in the U.S. to influence Americans through propaganda, economic coercion, and other nefarious activities. For decades we allowed the CCP free and unfettered access to U.S. institutions and businesses while these same privileges were never extended freely to U.S. citizens in China,” an emailed statement from a US Embassy spokesperson read.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, the Party has roughly 92m members as of 2019.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed the new restrictions and called on the US to "abandon their hatred toward the CPC", a Global Times report read.
It added that Beijing firmly opposed the move as it was "not in line with [the] US' own interests", citing comments from spokesperson Hua Chunying at a media briefing on Thursday.
"I hope that some people in the US can view China and China's development in a more rational, calm and objective manner, give up their hatred towards the CPC, enhance correct understanding of each other through exchanges, dialogue and communication and promote healthy and stable development of China-US relations," she said.Pompeo previously slapped visa restrictions on CCP officials in June for allegedly "eviscerating Hong Kong's freedoms".
But Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed at an event in early October to "uphold the leadership" of the CCP and never allow foreign forces to separate the Chinese people from the Party, citing five scenarios, just months after Beijing's Hong Kong national security law entered force in August.
US Trade War on China Intensifies Amid Fresh Measures
The measures come amid a wave of restrictions on trade and visas from Washington amid US president Donald Trump's trade war, days before he is expected to leave the White House.
Washington has cited several key issues, including the Hong Kong national security law, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and alleged intellectual property theft, among others, for its campaign.
The US House of Representatives approved a bill that could remove Chinese firms from US exchanges such as the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) if unable to audit their finances.
A Chinese firm with reported links to the Chinese military saw cotton imports banned after the US accused it of using "slave labour", citing alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The Trump administration also slapped 89 Chinese aerospace firms and 28 Russian companies with alleged ties to the Chinese military, restricting their access to key US technologies, including engine parts and components.
The news comes just days after Beijing sanctioned four officials linked to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) for "egregious" behaviour and meddling in domestic affairs in Hong Kong.
The officials have been barred from entering China, Hong Kong and Macao, reports read.
US national security advisor Robert O'Brien has attempted to rally support for a Western alliance aimed at countering measures from Beijing, citing alleged aggression in the South China Sea and import restrictions on Australian exports.
Washington later designated Huawei and ZTE national security risks, without citing evidence, for alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party and military. Both firms have repeatedly and sharply denied the claims and demanded to see evidence, which the US has not submitted to date.