China accuses USA of harassing scholars, entrepreneurs over visas

In a still image from video Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang speaks during a media briefing in which he commented on investigations into Chinese Australian writer Yang Hengjun in Beijing

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"Recently, the USA side has been attacking and smearing China's Xinjiang policies on the pretense of religion and human rights, and making baseless and mistaken remarks that are contrary to the facts", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing.

The move would follow new USA visa restrictions announced this week against Chinese government and Communist Party officials. China's National Immigration Administration did not immediately answer Reuters' request for comment.

Punishing Beijing for its treatment of Muslim minorities, the USA government this week widened its trade blacklist to include some of China's top artificial intelligence startups and announced visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials it believes responsible for the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province.

His complaint on Wednesday came as China demanded Washington lift restrictions on the sale of U.S. technology to a group of Chinese companies, calling it interference in the country's affairs.

Observers say between 1 and 3 million Muslims minorities have been detained in so-called re-education camps. China has also effectively turned all of Xinjiang into a police state, with block-by-block security checkpoints and spy cameras.

The department on Monday placed 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight major technology companies on a USA trade blacklist. Also included is SenseTime, the world's most valuable artificial intelligence startup. The Commerce Department said these companies were involved in "China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions by the United States had "thwarted normal people-to-people exchange between China and the United States and infringed upon the safety and lawful rights and interests of the Chinese personnel involved".

China is also said to be planning to tighten rules on visas for USA nationals with ties to anti-China groups. He added "Xinjiang affairs are purely China's internal affairs". Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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