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China on Wednesday said it will impose visa restrictions on US citizens for what it called “egregious” behaviour over Tibet soon after Washington announced that it had imposed restrictions on Chinese officials for violating human rights in the frontier province.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian made the announcement at Wednesday’s ministry briefing, adding that Beijing would not allow any foreign interference in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

“We urge the US to immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs through Tibet-related issues and not to go further and further on the wrong path, so as not to cause further damage to Sino-US relations and exchanges and cooperation between the two countries,” Zhao said.

The province, which borders India, is one of the most heavily restricted and censored regions in the world

China already restricts foreigners, and not just from the US, especially diplomats and journalists from visiting TAR, allowing only a restricted number of foreign tourists in the province; invited guests are almost always with handlers.

Citing human rights abuses by the Chinese government in Tibetan areas, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the US would restrict visas for some Chinese officials – under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act — because Beijing obstructs travel to the region by US diplomats, journalists and tourists. The Trump administration’s move announcing its new travel ban targets an unspecified number of Chinese officials with visa restrictions, limiting or entirely eliminating their ability to travel to the United States.

Zhao said that China strongly opposes the relevant US measures.

In response to the wrong actions of the US, China decided to impose visa restrictions on US personnel who “behaved badly” on Tibet-related issues, he said.

Though China does not allow diplomats and journalists inside TAR without the government inviting – and escorting – them, Zhao said: “Tibet is an open Tibet and has never made any regulations restricting foreigners from entering Tibet”.

Zhao defended that by saying that “…taking into account the special geographical and climatic conditions of Tibet, the Chinese government has taken certain management and protection measures against foreigners entering Tibet in accordance with law and regulations, “which are absolutely necessary and beyond reproach”.

Quoting “incomplete statistics from 2015 to 2018”, Zhao said between the three years TAR had received nearly 176,000 foreigners for official, tourism, business and other activities.

Ties between the US and China are going through some of the worst times with the two countries quarrelling on trade, Taiwan, the South China Sea – where Washington has dispatched two of its super aircraft carriers, the origin of the Coronavirus, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠

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