Restrictions target the United Front Work Department, a Chinese Communist Party organ tasked with strengthening adherence to the party within and outside China
In announcing the move, the State Department cites a malign influence campaign to intimidate critics of Beijing living overseas
The US State Department announced new visa restrictions on Chinese government officials on Friday, citing their alleged involvement in a malign influence campaign to intimidate critics of Beijing living overseas.
Those targeted belong to or are affiliated with the United Front Work Department, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organ that operates with a broad mandate to strengthen adherence to the party both within and outside China.
In a statement announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the United Front of seeking to “co-opt and coerce sub-national leaders, overseas Chinese communities, academia and other civil society groups both in the United States and other countries in furtherance of the CCP’s authoritarian narratives and policy preferences.”
The new measures, Pompeo said, apply to those who have used or threatened “physical violence, theft and release of private information, espionage, sabotage or malicious interference in domestic political affairs, academic freedom, personal privacy or business activity.”
Pompeo did not identify any of the individuals targeted, nor did he specify how many would be subject to the new restrictions.
Asked whom exactly the new measures targeted, a State Department representative said the agency could not name individuals given that visa records are confidential under US law. Under the restrictions, any individual found to have engaged in the activities described by Pompeo would be denied a visa, the official said.
The restrictions come days after the State Department introduced new guidelines to significantly curtail the privileges of travel visas for CCP members, prompting Beijing to issue a formal complaint with the Trump administration.
Under those guidelines, which were first reported by
, party members and their immediate family members must travel to the US within one month of obtaining their visa, compared with a previous 10-year window. In addition, their visas will be single-use, in contrast to the multi-entry travel visas normally available to Chinese citizens.
Raising the prospect of a further souring of US-China relations in the closing weeks of the Trump administration, Pompeo said on Friday that his department would implement more visa restrictions “to make clear that those responsible for actions that contravene the rules-based international order are not welcome in the United States”.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.