US considers travel ban on millions of China Communist party members – report

By Lily Kuo in Beijing

The US is reportedly considering imposing travel restrictions on Chinese Communist party members amid a deepening row, with president Donald Trump saying further sanctions were possible and Beijing vowing retaliation.

A draft presidential proclamation would revoke visas for members of the Chinese Communist party as well as their families, according to the New York Times, citing four people familiar with the proposed US travel ban that could apply to as many as 92 million party members.

According to the newspaper, the ban would be similar to the 2017 travel ban on Muslim-majority countries in giving the president the ability to prevent foreign nationals deemed “detrimental to the interests” of the US from entering the country.

Tensions between the increasingly rival countries have escalated in recent weeks over Hong Kong where Beijing has imposed a sweeping and controversial national security laws as well as Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seen by the US as a security threat.

On Wednesday, Trump said he had not ruled out additional sanctions on Chinese officials, following his signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy act, legislation meant to punish Beijing over the security law. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the US would be placing visa restrictions on “certain employees” of Chinese technology firms including Huawei.

Earlier in the day, China summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad to make “solemn representations over the Hong Kong legislation, calling it “gross interference in China’s internal affairs.” A statement from the Chinese foreign ministry said: “China will make the necessary response to the wrong actions of the US, including sanctions against US entities and individuals.”

In a statement late on Wednesday, China’s liaison office in Hong Kong said: “Unreasonable meddling and shameless threats by the United States are typical gangster logic and bullying.

“No external force can stop China’s determination to maintain national sovereignty and security for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.”

State mouthpiece the Global Times said in an editorial published on Wednesday night: “The current US administration has an abnormal worship of its own power ... To what extent is the US willing to hurt itself to harm Hong Kong? No matter what card the US will play next, China will fight it to the end.”

The two countries are engaged in tit-for-tat sparring over the treatment of respective media outlets, tariffs on goods, sanctions in relation to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as claims over the disputed South China Sea. On Tuesday, Pompeo declared such claims “illegal”, siding with south-east Asian countries against Beijing.

After the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials involved in alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, Beijing announced its own set of sanctions on US lawmakers and officials. China has also said that it would sanction US arms firm Lockheed Martin over its role in the latest sale of missiles to Taiwan.