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(Shanghai Daily) The United States is “weaponizing” visas, having failed to grant visas in time or at all for Chinese space officials for an international event, China’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.|
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the 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 last year launched more missions to orbit than any other country, and is on track to do the same this year.
Those missions include the first-ever soft-landing of a space craft on the far side of the moon.
China had applied for the visas in July, and on October 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 get his visa even as the congress began, Hua said yesterday.
Missed the opening
“This caused the Chinese delegation to miss the opening of the International Astronautical Congress,” Hua said.
She said that US denial had “threatened and damaged the legitimate rights and interests of all parties in the international community.”
Several other Chinese delegates also did not get visas, she added.
“Visa records are confidential under US law. We are unable to discuss individual cases,” the US embassy said in a statement.
Hua said this 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 United States 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 has urged the United States to change its ways, Hua said.