US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC, on July 15 2020. Picture: POOL VIA REUTERS/ANDREW HARNIK
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC, on July 15 2020. Picture: POOL VIA REUTERS/ANDREW HARNIK

Washington — US secretary of state Michael Pompeo has said the US will impose visa restrictions on some employees of Huawei Technologies over the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses, including against Uighur Muslims and other minorities.

“Telecommunications companies around the world should consider themselves on notice: if they are doing business with Huawei, they are doing business with human rights abusers,” Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday.

It wasn’t clear which Huawei employees or how many of them would face the visa restrictions. While mostly symbolic, the move is the latest in a global campaign by the US to limit Huawei’s reach and force telecommunications companies to sever their relationships with it.

The US argues that the Chinese technology company could be used by the government in Beijing as a back door for spying on Americans. Huawei has said it operates independently. The Trump administration is also using such sanctions as a way to pressure Beijing over human rights abuses that include forced confinement of Uighurs and other ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region.

Pompeo indicated in the statement that the visa restrictions will also apply to other “Chinese technology companies that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights abuses globally”.

As tensions with China escalate, Pompeo told reporters at the state department that the US continues to have conversations with the government in Beijing but “we have to deal with China as it is, not as we wish it to be”.

Europe trip

Pompeo said he’s going to the UK and Denmark next week and the threat from China will be high on the agenda. The UK announced on Tuesday that it will ban Huawei from its next-generation mobile networks, a move that came after months of pressure from the US.

Asked whether the US is going to ban TikTok, a popular app owned by a one of China’s biggest technology companies, Pompeo said at a conference sponsored by The Hill that the administration is in the midst of a broader review of steps to “protect the American people from having their information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status with the US and signed legislation that would sanction Chinese officials responsible for cracking down on political dissent in the former British colony.

Pompeo said at the conference, “President Trump has told our team that we need to do everything we can to push back” against China. 


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