The Trump administration is imposing sharply tighter restrictions on travel to the United States by Chinese Communist Party members and their families, a move Beijing describes as part of a "deep-rooted Cold War mentality."
The restrictions target holders of business (B-1) and tourist (B-2) visas, reducing the travel documents' maximum validity to one month, down from the current maximum of 10 years.
"This is in keeping with our ongoing policy, regulatory, and law-enforcement action across the U.S. Government to protect our nation from the CCP's malign influence," an unnamed State Department official wrote in a statement emailed to NPR.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spent much of the year bolstering his tough-on-China approach. He's blasted China for human rights abuses against its Uighur and other Muslim minorities, its crackdown on Hong Kong's autonomy and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The unsigned statement accuses the Chinese Communist Party and its members of trying to "influence Americans through propaganda, economic coercion, and other nefarious activities" and says the State Department has the authority to "limit visa validity of groups of individuals hostile to U.S. values."
China's foreign ministry spokesperson calls the new restrictions "an escalation of political suppression by some extreme anti-China forces in the U.S."
The Chinese Communist Party has more than 90 million members, effectively making the State Department visa action the Trump administration's most sweeping and direct attack on the party. The administration has previously imposed sanctions on Chinese businesses and individuals, including party officials, and has tried to drive a wedge between the people of China and the party.