US to hit Huawei employees with visa bans for rights abuses

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A monitor displays the logo for "Huawei" behind Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration said Wednesday it will impose travel bans on employees of the Chinese technology giant Huawei and other Chinese companies the U.S. determines are assisting authoritarian governments in cracking down on human rights, including in China's western Xinjiang province.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said the administration is finalizing plans to minimize data theft from the popular Chinese video streaming app TikTok, although he stopped short of saying it would be banned outright.

Pompeo made the announcements a day after the British government said it would ban Huawei from its 5G networks over concerns that sensitive data could be compromised by the Chinese Communist Party.

Pompeo told reporters at a State Department news conference that Huawei employees found to be providing “material support to regimes engaging in human rights violations and abuses globally" would be hit with sanctions.

“Companies impacted by today’s action include Huawei, an arm of the CCP’s surveillance state that censors political dissidents and enables mass internment camps in Xinjiang and the indentured servitude of its population shipped all over China,” he said. "Certain Huawei employees provide material support to the CCP regime that commits human rights abuses.

“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.

Huawei said it was “disappointed" in the decision, which it called “unfair.”

“Huawei operates independent of the Chinese government,” it said in a statement. “We are a private, employee-owned firm. 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.”