After similar action was taken against Chinese officials by the U.S. earlier this month, China has retaliated by imposing sanctions on some of theU.S. government officials.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, did not name the US officials who had been blacklisted by Beijing. However, he did say visa restrictions would be imposed on those who had “contorted lies” about China’s human rights record.
As per the Newsweek report, The sanctions aim is to “protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese officials,” Wang said. This action follows a similar tit-for-tat announcement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who announced that punitive measures would be taken against individuals suspected of human rights abuses and persecution of religious freedom.
Wang threatened to “respond with countermeasures” in a press conference held by the Foreign Ministry on March 22.
“The United States uses the pretext of so-called human rights issues to concoct malicious lies, and uses them as excuses to interfere in China’s internal affairs, smear China’s image and suppress Chinese officials,” said Wang. “These actions have no moral bottom line and seriously violate international law and the basic norms of international relations. China firmly opposes this.”
“In order to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese officials […] China has decided to impose reciprocal visa restrictions on U.S. officials who concocted lies on human rights issues involving China, advocated sanctions on China, and harmed China’s interests,” he said.
Trump and Biden have accused China of violations of human rights. China has retaliated vigorously. Before, the United States and China have both been sanctioned and counter-sanctioned for rights violations.
Researchers, human rights groups, and survivors say more than a million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been interned en masse as part of a years-long reeducation campaign overseen by China’s top leaders in northwestern Xinjiang.
On his final day as head of the State Department, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared China’s policies to be genocide and crimes against humanity because of reports of forced labor and sterilization of Uyghur women. His decision was later upheld by his successor, Blinken.
Last week, Secretary Blinken criticized China’s efforts to “harass, intimidate, surveil and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and U.S. citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations.”
Visa restrictions were then sanctioned on Chinese officials “responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors in China and beyond,” he said.
“We again call on the [Chinese] government to cease its acts of transnational repression, including attempting to silence Uyghur American activists and other Uyghur individuals serving the American people by denying exit permission to their family members in China.”
The names of the sanctioned individuals were not released by the State Department.