Beijing said Tuesday it would take “legitimate and necessary” measures against the United States in response to Washington’s latest visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of human rights abuses.
The US has toughened entry rules for Chinese officials and students in recent months as part of its campaign against Beijing, which has in recent years become its main strategic adversary.
The State Department has also cancelled visas for more than 1,000 Chinese students and researchers suspected of espionage.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the latest restrictions were directed at Chinese officials believed responsible for “policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents” and other civil society targets.
In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin accused the US of weaponising its visa policy and interfering in China’s internal affairs.
“China firmly opposes this and strongly condemns it,” he told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.
Wang added that China would “continue to take legitimate and necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its own legitimate interests”.
China earlier this month said it would sanction US officials who “performed badly” over Hong Kong issues, in a tit-for-tat response against US restrictions that banned inbound travel from officials accused of involvement in Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Washington has also banned inbound travel from Chinese officials allegedly involved in the mass internment of the country’s Muslim Uighur minority and drastically restricted US entry for members of the Chinese Communist Party.