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US State Department Enacts Visa Ban on Chinese Officials Involved in Religious Persecution

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: March 22, 2022
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks after viewing the "Burma's Path To Genocide" exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, March 21, 2022. (Image: KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. State Department has announced the imposition of travel bans on Chinese officials due to their involvement in “repressive acts,” “transnational repression,” and crackdowns on freedom of speech and religious minorities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and abroad. 

The notice, published on March 21, highlighted the fact that PRC officials not only abuse religious believers in mainland China, but also “harass, intimidate, surveil, and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and U.S. citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations.”

Beijing has long committed widespread human rights violations targeting Chinese Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice — many of whom have been subjected to torture, abuse and imprisonment for decades. In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has rounded up more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims for “reeducation” in  “counter-extremism camps” across Xinjiang and other parts of western China. 

“We call on the PRC government to end its ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, repressive policies in Tibet, crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, and human rights violations and abuses, including violations of religious freedom, elsewhere in the country,” the notice reads. 

The action “imposes visa restrictions on PRC officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners,” as well as “members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors in China and beyond.”

The department did not identify which officials would be subject to the expanded ban, nor say how many would be affected.

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Blinken: ‘Perpetrators of human rights abuses must face consequences’

“We are committed to defending human rights around the world and will continue to use all diplomatic and economic measures to promote accountability,” Blinken said.

The move adds to visa restrictions originally imposed by the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump over China’s treatment of ethnic minorities, as well as the repression of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and advocates for freedoms in Tibet.

Blinken also demanded that Beijing stop carrying out its “transnational repression,” such as attempting to punish activists by denying them the right to leave the country.

“The United States reaffirms its support for those who bravely speak out despite the threat of retaliation,” Blinken said. 

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