BEIJING (News Nation) — China on Monday announced unspecified sanctions against 11 U.S. politicians, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both who have been previously singled out by Beijing, as well as individuals at non-profit and political rights groups.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said the 11 senators had “performed badly” on issues concerning Hong Kong, where China has cracked down on opposition voices following its imposition of a national security law in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city in late June.
The U.S. lawmakers targeted by China have been vocal critics of the new law that Beijing is utilizing to expand its authority in the financial hub. Zhao did not specify what the sanctions entail.
The senators named by the foreign ministry included Senators Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Pat Toomey and Representative Chris Smith. National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, National Democratic Institute President Derek Mitchell, International Republican Institute President Daniel Twining, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, and Michael Abramowitz, President of Freedom House, were also on the sanctions list, according to Zhao.
China’s sanctions of the 11 U.S. citizens is the latest in a tit-for-tat round of measures between China and the United States over accusations of rights abuses and interference. The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam as well as the city’s current and former police chiefs, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump. Those sanctions freeze any U.S. assets owned by those people and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
China showed its determination to defy such pressure on Monday by arresting leading independent media tycoon Jimmy Lai and raiding the publisher’s headquarters.
“The relevant actions of the U.S. blatantly intervened in Hong Kong affairs, grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, and seriously violated international law and the basic norms of international relations,” Zhao said at a daily briefing on Monday.
“China urges the U.S. to have a clear understanding of the situation, correct mistakes, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Beijing already placed a travel ban on Rubio, Cruz and Smith last month after Washington announced similar measures against Chinese officials linked to measures taken against Muslims in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The standing committee of China’s national legislature passed the National Security Law last month, bypassing the city’s Legislative Council and the public, where such legislation has faced stiff opposition for years.
The move came in response to months of sometimes violent anti-government protests last year that Beijing said were encouraged by foreign forces in a bid to overthrow Chinese rule over the former British colony that was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework meant to last until 2047.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.