HONG KONG — The Trump administration has escalated the escalation of a diplomatic standoff with China by ordering the suspension of the United States’ visa-free travel to the country and imposing new restrictions on Chinese banks, the State Department said in a statement.
The move is part of a series of actions taken in recent weeks that threaten to isolate the United State and impose economic pain on China, the department said, adding that “anyone seeking to do business with China is at great risk.”
It said the United Kingdom and Australia, which have imposed visa-based restrictions on their citizens, will be exempt from the new visa restrictions.
The United States also has eased visa restrictions on its citizens, including citizens of Taiwan and other countries.
The decision to suspend travel to China was announced at the start of the Trump administration’s first day in office on January 20.
The State Department also announced that it is withdrawing the United Nations from its economic assistance program for countries that have signed on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade deal with 12 nations.
It said Beijing has “abused its veto power” in the United Nation to block the trade pact and has repeatedly blocked U.S. efforts to negotiate trade deals with its closest trading partners.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States has imposed restrictions on the Chinese banks the State Dept. says have been involved in illicit activities including human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing, and will ban American citizens and residents from using any Chinese bank.
The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to discuss the issue next week.
The U.K. and Australia have been pushing for more engagement between the United China and the United Republic of Tanzania, the world’s largest trading partner.
In November, the United Arab Emirates also announced it would lift visa restrictions for its citizens and put in place a temporary ban on all U.A.E. citizens visiting China.