President-elect Joe Biden (AP-Yonhap)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Washington issued new entry rules for Chinese Communist Party members traveling to the United States, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing the State Department.
The new policy -- which took immediate effect on Wednesday -- caps visas of Communist Party members and their immediate families to one month and a single entry into the country, the report said.
"For decades we allowed the CCP free and unfettered access to US institutions and businesses while these same privileges were never extended freely to US citizens in China," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement quoted by the Times.
Applicants had previously been able to obtain 10-year visitor visas. The report estimated the new restrictions could theoretically apply to around 270 million people.
Tensions have soared between the world's two largest economies on a range of fronts and both countries have stepped up travel restrictions on each other's citizens.
Both countries have restricted journalist visas, with Washington curbing the number of Chinese nationals from state-run news outlets in the United States earlier this year.
China responded in March by expelling more than a dozen American journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump administration has also revoked the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese students under a policy introduced in June that accused some of espionage and stealing intellectual property.
Beijing did not confirm the new restrictions Thursday, but said earlier reports that the US was considering travel restrictions showed its "hatred and abnormal mindset towards the Communist Party."
"Some extreme anti-China forces in the US, driven by a strong ideological bias and deep-rooted Cold War mentality, are politically oppressing China,"
said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a routine press briefing Thursday.
"This is an escalation of their political oppression towards China and China is firmly opposed to that," she said.
Beijing has previously accused Washington of "political persecution and racial discrimination" over visa restrictions.