Washington, December 5
The departing Trump administration has ended five cultural-exchange programmes with China that it says were being used for Chinese propaganda and had no benefit to the United States.
The terminations follow new visa restrictions announced by Washington limiting stays in the US by members of China’s Communist Party and signal further erosion in relations with Beijing in the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s time in office.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the exchange programmes he ended were fully paid for and operated by the Chinese Government “as soft power propaganda tools”.
They provided “carefully curated access to Chinese Communist Party officials, not to the Chinese people, who do not enjoy freedoms of speech and assembly”, he said in a statement late Friday.
The State Department terminated the Policymakers Educational China Trip Program, the US-China Friendship Program, the US-China Leadership Exchange Program, the US-China Transpacific Exchange Program and the Hong Kong Educational and Cultural Program.
Each program allowed US officials to travel in China at Beijing’s expense.
Pompeo said the US welcomes “the reciprocal and fair exchange of cultural programmes” with China and mutually beneficial ones would continue.
This past week, the US announced new time limits on visas for members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families, cutting the period their travel documents are valid to one month from 10 years.
The Trump administration has taken a variety of punitive measures against China as disputes sharpen over human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, trade, technology, Taiwan and many other issues.
Trump’s steps are subject to being reversed after Democrat Joe Biden becomes President on January 20. AP