- Zhao urged the US to "immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs through Tibet-related issues."
- On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the imposition of visa restrictions on an unknown number of Chinese officials.
- This is the latest move in a series of countermeasures by the United States against Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, in a routine press conference, that Americans who “behave badly” on Tibet-related issues would be restricted from visiting the far west, predominantly Buddhist region. This was seen as another tit-for-tat on visa restrictions between Washington and Beijing.
Zhao urged the US to “immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs through Tibet-related issues.” He also warned of further damage to US-China relations and cooperation. Zhao said the Chinese government has taken certain management and protection measures for foreigners entering Tibet, according to law and regulations.
He insisted that, taking into account the special geographical and climatic conditions of Tibet and other factors, these measures were absolutely necessary and beyond dispute. Zhao said that China welcomes more foreigners to visit, travel, and do business in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. This policy will not change, but the premise is that China’s laws and relevant regulations, along with necessary procedures, must be followed.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the imposition of visa restrictions on an unknown number of Chinese officials, and partially or completely canceled their entry visas to the United States. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:
“Unfortunately, Beijing has continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas by US diplomats and other officials, journalists and tourists, while PRC officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States.”
Zhao replied, “in response to the wrong actions of the US, China has decided to impose visa restrictions on US personnel who behave badly on Tibet-related issues.”
The statement did not list the names of any officials involved, nor did it specify the number of people. It clearly stated that visa restrictions should be imposed on relevant Chinese officials who actively “participate in the formulation or implementation of relevant policies for foreigners entering Tibetan areas.”
This is the latest move in a series of countermeasures by the United States against Beijing’s Hong Kong policy, Xinjiang’s human rights issues, global trade, and offensives in the South China Sea.
Foreigners need a special Chinese visa to enter Tibet. Human rights organizations pointed out that Beijing has implemented policies to suppress Tibetan culture, religion, monks, and ethnic minorities in Tibetan areas for decades.
China claims that Tibet has always been part of Chinese territory. Many Tibetans believe that Tibet has been an independent country for a long time. After the establishment of the communist regime in 1949, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army occupied Tibetan areas and suppressed the Tibetan uprising 10 years later. Many Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, were forced to flee to India and other countries.
“The US is sending Beijing a clear message that it will face consequences for its human rights abuses and continued isolation of Tibet from the outside world,” said the International Campaign for Tibet, a rights advocacy group’s president, Matteo Mecacci. “China’s oppression of the Tibetan people won’t stop tomorrow even with this law’s implementation.”