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China on Monday announced sanctions against a number of U.S. officials, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, in retaliation for legislation intended to punish senior Chinese officials over Beijing’s alleged treatment of minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, according to multiple reports.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the sanctions against the U.S. officials, would begin on Monday. The Republican senators — both prominent critics of China — were listed by Hua as targets of the “corresponding sanctions”.
Others include Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China — which monitors human rights and submits an annual report to President Trump and Congress, according to Reuters.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 5, 2020. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS – RC2EIG91O6GI
“The U.S. actions seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations and seriously damage Sino-U.S. relations,” Hua told reporters during a daily briefing. “China will make further responses based on how the situation develops.”
It’s not clear what the new sanctions against U.S. officials will entail.
The measures come just days after Washington sanctioned a Communist Party secretary and other Chinese officials, over alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China.
“The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP [Chinese Community Party] carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement announcing sanctions from the State Department.
The sanctions were aimed at three senior officials in Xinjiang, which makes them and their family members ineligible for entry into the U.S. Pompeo said additional visa restrictions were being placed on other officials believed to be involved or responsible for abuses against minorities.
U.N. experts have said at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims are being held in detention centers in Xinjiang, according to Reuters. China, which initially denied the existence of the camps, labels them as training centers aimed to root out terrorism and extremism, as well as provide people with new skills. Those held are allegedly subjected to forced labor, forced abortion, sterilization, and other abuse.
Both the U.S. moves and response by China were said to be largely symbolic because the officials likely don’t have much financial or legal contact with each other’s countries, Bloomberg reported.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and the Associated Press contributed to this report