Beijing sanctioned three U.S. lawmakers and an ambassador Monday, responding to similar actions the Trump administration imposted last week over China’s alleged human rights abuses against its minority Uighur population.
Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, announced the “corresponding sanctions” Monday, Reuters reported.
The U.S. move, which focused on China’s actions in Xinjiang, a region in western China, “seriously damaged U.S.-China relations,” Hua said, adding that Beijing “will respond further according to the development of the situation,” The Associated Press reported.
The Chinese sanctions target Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, and Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback was targeted as well, The Hill reported.
All four have been outspoken critics of China’s treatment of its Uighur population. Rubio and Cruz have each sponsored legislation that punishes China for their actions in Xinjiang, and Smith has criticized China with regards to Xinjiang, its encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and its handling of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
Beijing has allegedly committed multiple human rights abuses against the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group from western China. Recent reports have accused the Chinese government of putting them in internment camps and of forcing sterilization on them in order to lessen their population.
Last month the United States seized 13 tons of hair suspected to be from Uighur internment camps.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo originally announced the Trump administration’s sanctions July 9, targeting senior Chinese officials over their authorization of the alleged abuses. The sanctions applied to three officials in the Chinese Communist Party, the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and a former government official, The Hill reported.