By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US imposed Friday fresh visa sanctions on Chinese officials over what it said is Beijing's official policy of silencing dissents abroad through nefarious means.
The new penalties are being imposed on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its United Front Work Department (UFWD) officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The top diplomat said the CPP's branch "funds and supports overseas organizations to spread propaganda and coerces and bullies those who would oppose Beijing’s policies."
Among those targeted by the UFWD are academics, business leaders, civil society advocates, and Chinese diaspora groups who criticize Beijing's actions in Xinjiang and Tibet, according to the State Department.
Pompeo said they use tactics that include the release of personal information of the individuals and their family members in what he said are "means of political intimidation."
The individuals who are being denied visas "have engaged in the use or threat of physical violence, theft and release of private information, espionage, sabotage, or malicious interference in domestic political affairs, academic freedom, personal privacy, or business activity," Pompeo said.
"These malign activities are intended to co-opt and coerce sub-national leaders, overseas Chinese communities, academia, and other civil society groups both in the United States and other countries in furtherance of the CCP’s authoritarian narratives and policy preferences," he added.
As a matter of policy the State Department does not publicly discuss individual visa actions.