U.S. to Restrict Visas for Some Huawei Workers, Pompeo Says

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the U.S. will impose visa restrictions on some employees of Huawei Technologies Co. over the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses, including against 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 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 U.S. to limit Huawei’s reach and force telecommunications companies to sever their relationships with it.

The U.S. 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 also will apply to other “Chinese technology companies that provide material support to regimes engaging in human rights abuses globally.”

“We are disappointed by this unfair and arbitrary action to restrict visas of our employees who work tirelessly to contribute to technological innovation in the U.S. and around the world,” Huawei spokesman Rob Manfredo said in a statement.

As tensions with China escalate, Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that the U.S. 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 U.K. and Denmark next week on a trip where the threat from China will be high on the agenda. The U.K. announced on Tuesday that it will ban Huawei from its next-generation mobile networks, a move that came after months of pressure from the U.S.

Asked whether the U.S. 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 U.S. and signed legislation that would sanction Chinese officials responsible for cracking down on political dissent in the former British colony.

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

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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