China says US 'weaponizing' visas after space event no show

October 24, 2019 09:49
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said  the United States has stepped up denial, delay or cancellation of visas for Chinese academics, students and scientists. Photo: Reuters

China has accused the United States of “weaponizing” visas, saying it has failed to grant them in time or at all for Chinese space officials for an international event in Washington, Reuters reports.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday a Chinese delegation had wanted to take part in the ongoing International Astronautical Congress being held in Washington.

China is an important participant in the congress and sends delegations every year, she added. China hosted the congress in 2013. Last year, it was held in Germany.

China had applied for the visas in July, and on Oct. 12 the delegation from the China National Space Administration went for visa interviews at the US embassy, but the head of delegation still did not have his visa as the congress began, Hua said.

“This caused the Chinese delegation to be unable to attend the opening of the International Astronautical Congress,” Hua said, adding that several other Chinese delegates also did not get visas.

The US embassy said it was unable to discuss individual visa cases as they were confidential under US law. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the International Astronautical Congress on Monday, Wu Yanhua, vice chairman of the China National Space Administration, was the only official absent from a panel of other heads of space agencies from the US, Germany, Russia, India, France and Japan.

The panel moderator said his absence was due to a “scheduling conflict” and a conference spokeswoman said, “he was invited, but could not make it, which we regret very much.”

Hua said the issue was just the tip of the iceberg, with the United States stepping up denial, delay or cancellation of visas for Chinese academics, students and scientists.

The US has also gone against United Nations rules by denying visas for Russians and Iranians to participate there, she added.

“The United States is weaponizing the visa issue, repeatedly disregarding its international responsibilities and obstructing normal international exchanges and cooperation.”

China urges the US to change its ways, Hua said.

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