China restricts US official travel to Hong Kong

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China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying gestures during a press conference held at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. China is imposing restrictions on travel to Hong Kong by some U.S. officials and others in retaliation for similar measures imposed on Chinese individuals by Washington, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday. (AP Photo/Liu Zheng)

BEIJING – China is imposing restrictions on travel to Hong Kong by some U.S. officials and others in retaliation for similar measures imposed on Chinese individuals by Washington, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

U.S. diplomatic passport holders visiting Hong Kong and nearby Macao will temporarily no longer receive visa-free entry privileges, spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

U.S. administration officials, congressional staffers, employees of non-governmental organizations and their immediate family members will face “reciprocal sanctions,” Hua said.

She was apparently referring to U.S. sanctions that bar certain Chinese and Hong Kong officials from traveling to the U.S. or having dealings with the U.S. financial system over their roles in imposing a sweeping National Security Law passed this summer that ushered in a crackdown on free speech and opposition political activity in Hong Kong.

Hua said the move was taken “given that the U.S. side is using the Hong Kong issue to seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s core interests."

Those sanctioned “have performed egregiously and are primarily responsible on the Hong Kong issue,“ she said at a daily briefing.

“China once again urges the U.S. side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and not go further down the wrong and dangerous path," Hua said.

China had long threatened to retaliate against the U.S. sanctions and other actions seen as hostile.