Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced that the US will impose visa restrictions on certain employees of Chinese tech companies like Huawei that provide "material support" to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally, further straining bilateral ties. "Will impose visa restrictions on certain employees ... of Chinese technology companies like Huawei that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally," Pompeo told reporters at a State Department press briefing.
The US last week imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on three senior Chinese officials, including the regional boss of the ruling communist party, for alleged human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in the restive Muslim-majority Xinjiang province. China is accused of mass detentions, religious persecution and forced sterilisation of Uyghurs and others in China's resource-rich northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Pompeo's announcement comes a day after President Donald Trump announced he would sign a bill and an executive order punishing China for steps that are widely seen as an attempt to crush democratic freedoms in Hong Kong, and railed at China for "unleashing ... upon the world" the global coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported.
“Companies impacted by today's action include Huawei, an arm of the CCP’s (Communist Party of China) surveillance state that censors political dissidents and enables mass internment camps in Xinjiang and the indentured servitude of its population shipped all over China.
Certain Huawei employees provide material support to the CCP regime that commits human rights abuses,” he added.
He further said that the elecommunications companies around the world should consider themselves on notice: If they are doing business with Huawei, they are doing business with human rights abusers.
A day earlier, UK had announced to ban Huawei from future 5G networks and phase out untrusted Huawei equipment from existing networks.
“We will certainly take time to discuss the UK's commendable decision to ban Huawei gear from its 5G networks and phase out the equipment from its existing networks.
The UK joins the United States and now many other democracies in becoming clean countries, nations free of untrusted 5G vendors. In the same way, many major telecom companies like Telefonica, Telco Italia and NTT have become clean carriers.” Pompeo said.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.
Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.
“If Beijing violates the international law, and free nations do nothing, then history shows that the CCP will simply take more territory.
That happened in the last administration,” he said.
“Our statement gives significant support to ASEAN leaders who have declared that the South China Sea disputes must be resolved through international law, not might makes right.
What the CCP does to the Chinese people is bad enough, but the free world shouldn't tolerate Beijing's abuses as well,” Pompeo said.
Earlier, while announcing the visa restrictions, Pompeo said that the US has long been a beacon of hope for the world's most oppressed people, and a voice for those who have been silenced.
“We have been especially vocal about the Chinese Communist Party's human rights abuses, which rank among the worst in the world,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)