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US, China Impose Reciprocal Visa Restrictions Over Tibet

FILE - The American flag flies near the national emblem of China outside of the Bayi Building in Beijing, June 27, 2018.

Tibet has become the latest flashpoint in worsening relations between the United States and China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhou Lijian told reporters Wednesday in Beijing that China will impose visa restrictions on U.S. citizens who engage in “egregious” conduct in regards to the Himalayan region.

The move by Beijing is in apparent retaliation to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement Tuesday that Washington would restrict visas for an unspecified number of Chinese officials. Pompeo accused China of obstructing travel to Tibet by U.S. diplomats, journalists and tourists, while Chinese officials and tourists “enjoy far greater access to the United States.”

Pompeo said access to Tibet and Tibetan areas “is increasingly vital to regional stability” due to Beijing’s human rights abuses, as well as its “failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers.”

China has controlled the majority-Buddhist region since 1950 when its forces entered the region under what it calls “a peaceful liberation.”

Zhou Lijian warned the U.S. “to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs with Tibet-related issues” or risk creating further damage to bilateral relations.

Ties between the world’s biggest economies have become frayed in recent months over a host of issues, including trade and human rights concerns involving Hong Kong and the incarceration of some one million ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang.