China sanctioned four U.S. officials, including prominent GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), on Monday for criticizing Beijing over its treatment of minority communities in its Xinjiang region.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approved the sanctions after the Trump administration sanctioned three Chinese officials, freezing any assets they might have in the United States and banning them from the country.
Along with Cruz and Rubio, the CCP sanctions target President Donald Trump’s ambassador for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback as well as Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), according to The Washington Post. Cruz, Rubio, and Smith are all members of the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China.
Cruz and Rubio responded to Beijing’s sanctions on Monday:
“Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran,” Cruz tweeted, referencing the seat of power in Iran, another country notorious for its human rights abuses.
Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran. https://t.co/PXE7jZaZt1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 13, 2020
“The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country,” Rubio said in a tweet. “I guess they don’t like me?”
The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country.
I guess they don’t like me?
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 13, 2020
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not give details on what the sanctions against the four U.S. officials entailed except to say China’s actions would correspond with those taken by the United States, according to The Associated Press. She said that the CCP acted in retaliation against the U.S. for “interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
“Xinjiang affairs are China’s internal affairs, and the U.S. has no right to interfere in them,” Hua told reporters in Beijing. On the Trump administration, she said the U.S. sanctions are a “serious violation of basic norms governing international relations” and “severely undermine our bilateral relations.”
“The Chinese government is determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, and in fighting terrorists, violent separatists and religious extremist forces,” she said, defending China’s operation of massive detention camps holding over one million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.
China claimed to have shut down the camps in December, but accounts from Uighurs and Kazakhs, another ethnic minority, who were imprisoned in the camps or who have family members still in the camps contradict the CCP’s claim. Last month, The Jamestown Foundation released a report that the Chinese government was arresting and forcing minority women to have abortions and injecting them with strange chemicals that in many cases left the women infertile.
“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” Joanne Smith Finley, an expert on China’s Xinjiang region in the United Kingdom, said at the time. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”
The sanction tit-for-tat is part of an escalating feud between the world’s largest economies. The Trump administration started prodding China first over trade before ramping up a campaign to slash global adoption of Chinese technology. The United States has pressed allies such as the United Kingdom to sever ties with the Chinese state-owned company Huawei over threats to information security.
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