China policy round-up: US-China tensions intensify, TikTok faces government ban, Mainland to stop recognising BNO passports
In this round-up, the already fraught relationship between the US and China faces fresh tests, as both countries continue announcing retaliatory measures against each other.
The relationship between the US and China took a turn for the worse this week.
On Tuesday, the US ordered China to shut down its Houston consulate and vacate the premises within 72 hours.
The staff reportedly started burning documents outside the consulate. A spokesperson at the US State Department said in a statement that China was engaging in “massive illegal spying and influence operations” throughout the US, against its government officials and citizens.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at the China foreign ministry, fought back in a Wednesday press conference.
“China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-US relations,” he said. “We urge the US to immediately withdraw its erroneous decision, otherwise China will make legitimate and necessary reactions.”
On Friday early afternoon, China reacted. Its foreign ministry ordered the US consulate general in Chengdu to cease all operations and events, state-media Xinhua news reported.
The US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has reportedly voted unanimously in favour of a ban of Chinese app TikTok on all government-issued devices. The move is set to be taken up for a vote at the US Senate.
TikTok is a video sharing social networking platform owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance.
The Bureau of Industry and Security under the US Department of Commerce has added 11 Chinese companies to its “entity list” on alleged human rights abuse in Xinjiang. The move restricts the companies’ access to US items with a US origin, including commodities and technology.
China urged the US to “rectify its mistake and revoke the decision”, said Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The US does not care about human rights issues, but is abusing its export control measures in an attempt to “suppress Chinese companies, destabilise Xinjiang, and smear China’s Xinjiang policies”, Wang added.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo escalated tensions further in a Thursday speech titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future”, delivered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
“If we don’t act now, ultimately the [Chinese Communist Party] will erode our freedoms and subvert the rules-based order that our societies have worked so hard to build,” Pompeo said. “If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world.”
Additionally, the US department of justice charged four Chinese nationals with visa fraud for allegedly lying about their affiliation with China’s People’s Liberation Army when applying for research visas, the justice department said in a Thursday press release. Three of the four were arrested.
The UK home secretary Priti Patel announced on Wednesday that the country will allow British National (Overseas) citizens ordinarily residing in Hong Kong and their immediate family members to apply for a new type of visa for the UK from next January.
The visa will give holders the right to work and study in the UK. It will allow them to apply for two periods of a right to remain for either 30 months or five years in the UK.
Eventually, the visa will provide a pathway to obtaining full UK citizenship.
The new visa policy comes after China imposed a sweeping new security law in Hong Kong.
In response, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a Thursday press conference that China will consider stopping to recognise the BNO passport as a valid travel document.
China is requiring all inbound passengers arriving by air to provide negative Covid-19 test results before boarding their flights, according to a Tuesday statement by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Further, the tests must be completed within five days of boarding.
China and France vowed to strengthen ties in finance and areas such as 5G mobile networks, at the seventh China-France high-level economic and financial dialogue teleconference this week. The event was co-chaired by China’s vice premier Hu Chunhua and the French minister for economy and finance minister, Bruno Le Maire.
According to a statement released by the State Council, the financial regulators in the two countries will continue their co-operation in areas such as sustainable finance.
The Chinese and French stock exchanges will also work together in cross-border ETF, index development and depository receipts. China also said it welcomes qualified French institutional investors to invest in its onshore bond market.