China has lashed out at the US after it was reported President Donald Trump's administration is considering banning all members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families from the country.
As US-China relations continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate, fuelled by an ugly back-and-forth between several key politicians from both nations, several US media outlets this week reported senior officials are discussing the possibility of refusing travel to Beijing counterparts.
It comes amid a bitter feud between the two countries over Chinese tech giant Huawei which has been banned from rolling out its 5G network in the US over fears the Chinese Communist Party is using the company to ramp up espionage overseas.
According to anonymous sources, US officials have begun circulating a draft of a possible presidential order but deliberations are at an early stage and the issue has not yet been brought to Mr Trump.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said if such a move was to materialise, it would be “very pathetic”.
“We hope the US will refrain from doing more things that disdain the basic norms governing international relations and undermine its reputation, credibility and status as a major country,” she said.
The discussions, first reported by the New York Times, centre on whether to deny visas to tens of millions of Chinese in what would be one of the toughest actions yet in a feud between the two countries.
Such a ban, if implemented, could hit the ruling Communist Party from the highest levels down to its rank-and-file and would be certain to draw retaliation against US citizens who travel to China.
This could include not only diplomats but also business executives, potentially harming US interests in China.
China responds to cold war fears
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped short of confirming it was under consideration but reiterated the US’s position on China, fuelling fears the two nations will soon be embroiled in a new cold war.
"We're working our way through, under the president's guidance, about how to think about pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said.
As relations between the world's two largest economies sink to the lowest point in decades, Ms Hua, during a press conference that was dominated by US matters, hit out at the US when questioned if a new cold war was brewing between the two nations.
“Some in the US with ideological biases are resorting to all possible means to portray China as an adversary, and even an enemy. They seek relentlessly to frustrate and contain China's development,” she said.
“The current China policy of the US is based on ill-informed strategic miscalculation, and is fraught with emotions and whims and McCarthyist bigotry. Its suspicion about China, totally uncalled-for, has reached a point of paranoia.
“It seems as if every Chinese investment is politically driven, every Chinese student is a spy, and every cooperation initiative is a scheme with hidden agenda.
“If the US lacks confidence, openness and inclusiveness to such an extent, and chooses to conjure up "China Threats" of various kinds, its paranoia may turn into self-fulfilling prophecies at the end of the day.”
Yet Ms Hua stated China had no interest in confronting the US on “all fronts”.
US ‘keeping every option on the table with regard to China’
The relationship has been damaged by a plethora of recent disputes including over China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, its tightening grip on Hong Kong, its disputed claims in the South China Sea, trade and accusations of human rights crimes in Xinjiang.
The latest sanction to be proposed comes four months after tit-for-tat restrictions were slapped on journalists operating in both countries.
US officials across multiple agencies are involved in the process, which includes consideration of whether to block Communist Party members' children from attending US universities, said the source, who has been briefed on deliberations.
"We keep every option on the table with regard to China,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters.
Trump's aides have made the Communist Party a main target for what they call Beijing's "malign" activities.
One difficulty facing the US would be determining which Chinese citizens are party members since US authorities do not have full lists, the source said.
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