WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is considering banning travel to the United States by all members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday, an idea that China dismissed as absurd.
Senior officials discussing the matter had begun circulating a draft of a possible presidential order, but deliberations were at an early stage and the issue had not yet been brought to President Donald Trump, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The discussions, first reported by the New York Times, center on whether to deny visas to more than 90 million Chinese in what would be one of Washington’s toughest actions yet in a widening feud with Beijing that some have likened to a new Cold War.
Such a ban, if implemented, could hit the ruling Communist Party from the highest levels down to its rank-and-file and would be certain to draw retaliation against Americans who travel to China. This could include not only diplomats but also business executives, potentially harming U.S. interests in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the possibility of such a travel ban, told reporters on Friday that, should it materialise, it would mean the United States was choosing to stand against 1.4 billion people.
“This is against the trend of the 21st century, and it is very absurd,” she said, noting that no U.S. official had clarified whether the reports of the possible ban were correct.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stopped short of confirming it was under consideration but said: “We’re working our way through, under the president’s guidance, about how to think about pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party.”