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China plans to restrict visas for US visitors with "anti-China" links



SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China plans tighter visa restrictions on US citizens with ties to anti-Chinese groups, said people with knowledge of the proposed curbs after similar US restrictions on Chinese citizens, as relations between countries are sour.

FILE PHOTO: US and Chinese flags seen before Secretary of Defense James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Generator Wei Fenghe to Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, USA, November 9, 2018. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas

China's Ministry of Public Security has spent months working with rules to limit the ability of all employees or sponsored by US intelligence services and human rights groups to travel to China.

The proposed changes follow the introduction of the United States by stricter visa regulations for Chinese researchers in May.

New US visa restrictions announced on Tuesday by the Chinese government and Communist Party officials that the United States considers responsible for detaining or abusing Muslim minorities had reinforced the case for the new Chinese restrictions, one source said.

"This is not something we want to do but we seem to have no choice," the source said.

The Chinese rules would make it necessary to draw up a list of US military and CIA-linked institutions and rights groups, and that their employees should be added to a blacklist for visas, according to sources, who declined to be identified.

The tighter restrictions come amid growing concern in Beijing that the United States and other governments are using such organizations to employ anti-government protests in both China and Hong Kong, and would also avenge US visa restrictions on Chinese researchers and officials, said the first source.

"The plan has been widely debated by senior police in recent months, but has become more likely to be implemented following the Hong Kong protests and the US visa ban on Chinese officials," the source said.

China's National Immigration Administration, which operates under the Ministry of Public Security, did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

US-China rivalry is driven by a range of issues including commercial competition, human rights and security concerns.

The United States took a major step toward confronting China in May, adding Chinese technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. and 70 affiliates to its so-called Entity List, and banned the Chinese company from acquiring components and technology from US companies without the United States: s government approval.

The United States suspects that Huawei's equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the Chinese company has repeatedly denied.

TRADE SPECIES

On Monday, the US Department of Commerce cited the abuse of Uighur Muslims and others in a decision to add 20 Chinese public security agencies and eight companies to a blacklist, including the world's largest manufacturer of video surveillance equipment, Hikvision startup and the world's most valuable of artificial intelligence, SenseTime.

The US movements have thrown a tussle over US-China trade talks in Washington on Thursday and Friday between Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The United States also continues to discuss possible restrictions on capital flows to China, focusing on US government pension funds, Bloomberg reported.

The most recent visa restrictions on visas for tat began in April when some prominent Chinese researchers had their US visas revoked.

The following month, the United States introduced legislation designed to ban all employees or sponsored by the Chinese military from obtaining student or research visas.

China has condemned what it sees as punitive US action against its citizens.

US. Citizens who hope to visit mainland China must apply for a visa. US passport holders do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong.

Reporting by Keith Zhai; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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