The United States is looking to restrict the entry of Chinese officials who have been identified as having been a part of human rights violations by banning visas. This involves the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghur minorities, underground churches, and so on.
New visa applications of Chinese officials can be instantly rejected under the new policy. Those who have already been given a visa can have it blocked if it is later found that they were part of crimes against humanity. Falun Gong practitioners in the U.S. have been asked to submit a list of Chinese authorities whom they know are involved in such activities.
“This shows the U.S. government has entered a new phase in its concern for the persecution of people of faith worldwide, especially in relation to China — the most severe violator of religious freedom in the world… It sends them a message that you can’t persecute Falun Gong,” Lai Shantao, President of the Falun Dafa Association of Washington, said to The Epoch Times.
Uyghur activists are also asking the U.S. government to increase pressure on China by passing sanctions against Beijing’s for its vicious treatment of the community. The Uyghur American Meshrep Group has requested Congress to ratify the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. This will make Chinese officials held accountable for the abuses they have perpetrated on the Uyghurs. Last year, a group of lawmakers and evangelical activists demanded that the U.S. administration pressure China into loosening their hostile view on religious adherents.
“The United States should raise China’s abhorrent human rights record in all of our bilateral discussions with China… A government willing to commit grave abuses against Uighur Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, & Falun Gong practitioners will have no problem repeatedly violating intellectual property laws or undertaking unfair trade practice. [The administration] should use every tool at its disposal [against China],” Senator Marco Rubio said in a statement (The Washington Post).
Social media check
The United States government is also looking to implement a policy that will require visa applicants to submit their social media usage information. Though it won’t be applied to all foreigners seeking an American visa, a good chunk of them, including students, tourists, businessmen, etc., will be asked for such details. In case they do not use social media, they can indicate the same at the time of application. But if the applicant is found to have lied about it, they could end up facing serious “immigration consequences.”
“This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States… As we’ve seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil,” a state department official said to The Hill.
The government may also ask for the travel history of the person, including whether they have been deported from any country. Up to five years of telephone and email usage history may also need to be submitted. While the administration says that such measures are necessary to block terrorists, some rights activists argue that state access to social media history is an invasion of privacy.