World

Chinese officials hit with US visa restrictions

State Department cites China's mistreatment of Muslim minorities as reason

WASHINGTON: The United States imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials for the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities, angering Beijing. But a US official said high-level trade talks would still take place today and tomorrow as planned.

The State Department announced the visa plan just a day after the US Commerce Department cited the mistreatment of Uighur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China in its decision to add 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight companies to a trade blacklist.

The State Department did not name the Chinese officials affected by the visa clampdown.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the restrictions "complement" the Commerce Department's actions.

DENOUNCED MOVE

China's embassy in Washington denounced the move as "made-up pretexts" for interfering in China's internal affairs.

"#Xinjiang affairs are purely China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. We urge the US to correct its mistakes at once and stop its interference in China's internal affairs," the embassy tweeted.

The US is "disregarding the facts, slandering and smearing China on Xinjiang-related issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said yesterday.

Mr Geng said the US actions were guided by "sinister intentions". He called the US move "completely futile" and warned China would take "firm" action against violations of its sovereignty.

Chinese officials are offering to increase annual purchases of US agricultural products by US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion) as the two countries seek to resolve their trade dispute, the Financial Times reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources.

Earlier, a Chinese diplomat told Reuters that China wanted a deal, but it cannot be a "zero-sum game". The diplomat added that it was important for the US to accept the differences between the two economic systems, particularly China's state-led development model.

Tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by the US and China have roiled financial markets and slowed capital investment and trade flows.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva issued a stark warning about the state of the global economy, saying an economic deceleration could worsen without action to resolve trade conflicts and support growth.

"We are decelerating, we are not stopping, and it's not that bad. And yet, unless we act now, we are isking a potential more massive slowdown," Ms Georgieva, who took over as IMF chief this month, said at an event to preview the IMF and World Bank autumn meetings next week in Washington. - REUTERS

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