A number of Republican U.S. federal senators introduced a bill Thursday (Feb. 25) to end the 10-year multiple-entry visas granted to Chinese citizens to enter the United States. U.S. and Chinese leaders reached an agreement in November 2014 to extend the validity of tourist and business visas for U.S. and Chinese citizens from one year to 10 years.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) from Arkansas, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) from Florida, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-) from Tennessee, Sen. (TN) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the Visa Security Act on Thursday to end the issuance of 10-year multiple-entry visas to Chinese nationals. Sen. Cotton proposed similar provisions in his recently released report entitled “Defeating China: The Long War Against Decoupling and the Economy”.
These Republican senators have advocated a tough stance on China on numerous issues.
“Since 2014, the Chinese Communist Party has been granted 10-year business and tourist visas that allow Chinese citizens to enter and exit the United States at will. In issuing these visas, the United States has welcomed the Chinese Communist Party, its intelligence agencies and those they have bought with open arms. This was a bad decision in 2014, and it is Time for us to right that wrong,” Senator Cotton said in a statement.
In November 2014, then-President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders Summit that tourist and business visas for U.S. and Chinese citizens would be extended from one year to 10 years.
U.S.-China relations deteriorated across the board to an all-time low after President Trump took office and took a tough stance against China, including imposing tariffs on products from China.
Sen. Blackburn, one of the bill’s sponsors, tied the bill to human rights issues in China.
In a statement, she said, “Unless the Chinese Communist Party stops systematically violating human rights and religious freedom, the United States cannot continue to be complicit with Chinese citizens by providing them with 10-year, multiple-entry visas.”
She said the Visa Security Act would stop the “revolving door” that the Chinese Communist Party has used for five years and would require accountability in human rights efforts around the world.
Sen. Rubio, another sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that China does not deserve disproportionate special treatment in light of its abuses and malicious activities in the United States.
“It is long past time for the United States to adequately address the imbalance in our relationship with China and to stop the Chinese Communist Party from taking advantage of our programs and opening up,” he said.
Responding to criticism that the bill targets Chinese citizens rather than the Chinese Communist Party, Rubio told Voice of America Thursday, “There are clear definitions of who will be targeted, who will not be targeted and who we will vet. We’re not going to target tourists. I mean, that’s not what the law is about, it’s about targeting people who we know might come for the wrong reasons. “
“You know, we always welcome international travelers. But I think it’s important that we have more scrutiny when we know that some people are coming here for purposes that threaten the national security of the United States,” Senator Rubio went on to tell Voice of America.
Senator Scott, a co-sponsor of the bill, believes that Chinese Communist Party members in the Chinese military should be the focus of the vetting.
We should focus on Chinese Communist Party members in the military,” he told Voice of America. That’s who we should be focusing on.”
Voice of America tried to ask congressional Democrats what they thought of the newly introduced bill by Republican lawmakers, and several lawmakers said they had not yet seen the bill in its entirety and therefore would not comment specifically.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) from Delaware said Thursday when asked about the bill by Voice of America, “I’m not familiar with it at all, I haven’t seen the details and would have to do so before I could provide a meaningful response.”
A press release from Senator Cotton’s office summarizes the key elements of the Visa Security Act as follows.
Prohibits Chinese nationals from obtaining a 10-year B-1/B-2 business visa unless the Secretary of State certifies that the People’s Republic of China has
Ceased economic and industrial espionage against the United States.
Ended provocative and coercive acts against Taiwan.
Revoked the Hong Kong National Security Law and fully implemented the commitments of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
ended the organized oppression of the Uighurs, Tibetans and other minorities
withdrew its illegal claims in the South China Sea; and
released foreign hostages and improperly detained individuals in the People’s Republic of China.
Chinese citizens will be eligible for a one-year multiple-entry visa. This policy would represent a return to pre-2014 visa practices.
This legislation does not apply to Taiwan or certain Hong Kong residents.