China sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation

China sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation
© Bonnie Cash

Beijing said it will sanction three U.S lawmakers and one ambassador in retaliation for similar actions the Trump administration took against Chinese officials last week over alleged human rights abuses against China’s minority Uighur population in the western region of Xinjiang. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced the “corresponding sanctions” on Monday, Reuters reported

Hua said the U.S. move “seriously damaged China-U.S. relations,” and that Beijing “will respond further according to the development of the situation,” according to The Associated Press. She did not spell out the sanctions beyond saying they would correspond to the ones issued by the U.S., the AP noted. 

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The sanctions target Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWisconsinites need infrastructure that is built to last  Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Texas), as well as Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithLawmakers who bucked their parties on the T infrastructure bill House Democrats reintroduce bill to empower public sector unions Overnight Defense & National Security — Breakneck evacuations continue as Biden mulls deadline MORE (R-N.J.), Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, according to the news services.

Spokespeople for the lawmakers were not immediately available for comment. 

The U.S. officials targeted by China’s sanctions have been critical of Beijing's treatment of the minority Uighur population. Rubio and Cruz have both sponsored legislation that would punish China's actions in Xinjiang, and Smith has been a vocal critic of China on issues ranging from Xinjiang to Hong Kong and the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters notes. 

The Chinese government is accused of committing human rights abuses against the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region, with reports finding that members of the Muslim minority group have been put in internment camps. Last month, The Associated Press reported that the Chinese government has acted in recent years to slash birth rates among the minority group through birth control and sterilization. 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE last week announced the U.S. imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials over the alleged human rights abuses. The sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act apply to three Chinese Communist Party officials, the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and a former government official.