Sino-US Tit-For-Tat Visa Restriction Spat Erupts Over Tibet

The Trump administration said on Tuesday it would impose travel bans on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials that are restricting foreigners' access to Tibet. Then, in a classic tit-for-tat, China responded Wednesday with visa restrictions on Americans, reported Reuters

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slapped an unspecified number of CCP officials with visa restrictions, limiting their mobility within the US. 

Pompeo condemned the CCP for blocking foreign diplomats, tourists, and journalists to Tibet.

"The United States seeks fair, transparent, and reciprocal treatment from the People's Republic of China for our citizens," Pompeo said. "We have taken several steps to further this goal. Unfortunately, Beijing has continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas by U.S. diplomats and other officials, journalists, and tourists, while PRC officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States."

On Wednesday, in apparent retaliation, China imposed visa restrictions on Americans who have had 'extreme' behavior over Tibet. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing: The US "should stop going further down the wrong path to avoid further harming China-U.S. relations and communication and cooperation between the two countries." 

Zhao said China supports travel and tourism to the Himalayan region, it has adopted "certain management and protection measures for foreigners visiting Tibet in accordance with law and regulations" due to its "special geographical and climatic conditions." 

Washington has tried for years to ease restrictions on foreigners' travel to Tibet. Human rights activists claim Beijing has suppressed local culture for decades. 

US-China relations have plunged to their lowest point in decades since the trade war began (1Q18), coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong debacle, Taiwan, and hostilities in the South China Sea.