China announced sanctions on a number of U.S. officials, including sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, on Monday as retaliatory measures to punish senior Chinese officials for Beijing’s alleged treatment of Uighur minority Muslims in Xinjiang.
Chinese State Department spokeswoman Hua Chunying said sanctions against U.S. officials would begin on Monday. Republican senators – both prominent critics of China – have been listed by Hua as targets of “appropriate sanctions.”
Others are the General Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, US Representative Chris Smith, and the Congress Executive Committee for China, which monitors human rights and reports an annual report to President Trump and Congress, according to Reuters.
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“US actions seriously interfere with China’s domestic affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations, and seriously harm Sino-US relations,” Hua told reporters during a daily briefing. “China will provide further answers depending on how the situation develops.”
It is not clear what the new sanctions against US officials will bring.
The measures come just days after Washington sanctioned a Communist Party secretary and other Chinese officials for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang region of China.
“The United States will not remain inactive as a CCP [Chinese Community Party] is carrying out human rights violations against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other minorities in Xinjiang, including forced labor, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and is trying to wipe out their culture and Muslim beliefs, “Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said a statement announcing State Department sanctions .
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The sanctions were directed against three high-ranking officials in Xinjiang, which is why they and their family members are not authorized to enter the United States.
According to Reuters, at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centers in Xinjiang, according to UN experts. China, which initially denied the existence of the camps, calls them training centers to eradicate terrorism and extremism and to equip people with new skills. The detainees are said to be subjected to forced labor, forced abortion, sterilization and other abuse.
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Both the U.S. move and China’s response are largely symbolic because officials are unlikely to have much financial or legal contact with each other’s countries, Bloomberg reported.
Adam Shaw from Fox News and Associated Press contributed to this report