Former U.S President Donald Trump's government has restricted travel to the United States by Chinese Communist Party members and their families, the New York Times newspaper reported on Thursday, a move China condemned as political oppression.
The new policy, which took immediate effect, limits the maximum validity of travel visas for party members and their families to one month and a single entry, as per two people familiar with the development. A State Department spokesman said in an emailed statement it was reducing the validity of visas for party members from 10 years to one month. Previously, party members, like other Chinese citizens, could obtain U.S. visitor visas of up to 10 years' duration, it said.
Principally, the policy change could affect the travel of roughly 270 million people (China has about 92 million Communist Party members) although, in practice, it might be difficult to determine who, apart from high-level officials, belongs to the party. The new visa rules add to the now years-long conflict between the countries on trade, technology and much else.
The Trump administration has sought to cement the outgoing president's tough-on-China legacy; relations between the world's two largest economies have sunk to their lowest point in decades. Washington and Beijing have clashed over China's handling of the covid-19 outbreak, its tightening grip on Hong Kong, its disputed claims in the South China Sea, trade and accusations of human rights crimes in Xinjiang.