International flights arrivals are listed on a screen at Los Angeles International Airport on March 12, 2020 one day before a US flight travel ban hits 26 European countries amid ongoing precautions over the Coronavirus.
CNN  — 

The State Department is imposing new restrictions on travel visas to the United States for members of the Chinese Communist Party, a State Department spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

Under the new rules, the travel visas of CCP members and their immediate family members will change from 10 years to one month and will be single entry.

The move, taken less than two months before the Trump administration leaves power, is the latest in a series of actions that have ratcheted up tension between Washington and Beijing.

“This is in keeping with our ongoing policy, regulatory, and law-enforcement action across the U.S. Government to protect our nation from the CCP’s malign influence,” the spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. “Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of State has the authority to limit visa validity of groups of individuals hostile to U.S. values.”

The spokesperson claimed that the Chinese Communist Party “sends agents to the United States to unabashedly monitor, threaten, and report on Chinese nationals and Chinese-American groups engaging in legal, honest, and open activities that are protected under freedom of speech and freedom of assembly clauses.”

“For decades we allowed the CCP free and unfettered access to U.S. institutions and businesses while these same privileges were never extended freely to U.S. citizens in China. Interaction with free societies, economies, and access to Western technologies certainly helped China develop, while the CCP only doubled down on Marxist-Leninism and hostility to the free world,” the spokesperson said.

The State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pursued a series of aggressive actions against the Chinese government as tensions between the US and China continue to rise.

It has designated more than a dozen Chinese media companies operating in the US as foreign missions. China has expelled journalists from a number of US media outlets. The Trump administration has also imposed restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the US, and in July ordered Beijing to shutter its consulate in Houston.

The activities of consulate officials in Houston “are a microcosm, we believe, of a broader network of individuals in more than 25 cities that network is supported through the consulates here,” a US Justice Department official told reporters at the time.

In response, the Chinese government ordered the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu.