Jan. 20 (UPI) — A day after the United States declared China’s treatment of its Muslim minority Uyghur population as genocide, the Asian nation imposed sanctions against high-ranking Trump administration officials including former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, blaming them for the downturn in relations between Beijing and Washington.
In a statement released shortly after Joe Biden assumed the presidency of the United States, China’s foreign ministry announced sanctions against Pompeo and 28 other Trump officials, prohibiting them and their immediate family members from entering China, including Hong Kong and Macao, and restricting their companies from doing business in the Asian nation.
“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” the statement said.
“The Chinese government is firmly resolved to defend China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests,” it said.
Those sanctioned also include former trade adviser Peter Navarro, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, former senior State Department official David Stilwell, U.N. envoy Kelly Craft, health secretary Alex Azar, former national security adviser John Bolton and Trump associate Stephen Bannon as well as others not named.
Bolton celebrated being sanctioned on Twitter as “great news.”
“I accept this prestigious recognition of my unrelenting efforts to defend American freedom,” he said.
The sanctions were imposed less than 24 hours after Pompeo declared China’s repressive treatment of its Uyghur population as crimes against humanity and genocide, accusing the Chinese Communist Party of systematically attempting to “destroy” them.
“The governing authorities of the second-most economically, militarily and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaging in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader,” he said.
China has been accused by the Untied States, other countries and human rights groups of arbitrarily detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs in concentration camps in its northwestern Xinjiang region, subjecting them to mass surveillance and an assortment of human rights abuses such as torture, forced labor and restrictions on freedom of religion, movement and speech.
The declaration by Pompeo was the last and strongest condemnation from the Trump administration against China over its human rights record. The former administration has passed several laws and imposed sanctions to punish those it holds responsible not only for the human rights abuses committed against the Uyghur but for its treatment of protesters in Hong Kong and its behavior in the South China Sea.
China has repeatedly denied all accusations of wrongdoing and has said its actions in Xinjiang are to stamp out extremism and secession and has repeatedly called on those who have criticized it to stop interfering in its internal business.
Hua Chunying, a China foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters on Wednesday that Pompeo’s declaration “is a completely false allegation and a malicious farce.”
“To us, Pompeo’s so-called determination is nothing more than a piece of waste paper,” she said. “This notorious liar and cheater is making himself a doomed clown and a joke of the century with his show of lies and madness just before the curtain falls.”
She said the damage to the relationship between Washington and Beijing has been caused by the Trump administration, urging Biden to “serve the wishes of the people, view China in a rational and objective light and work with China on the basis of mutual respect.”
However, Antony Blinken who Biden nominated to succeed Pompeo, told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he agreed with his predecessor.
“The forcing of men, women and children into concentration camps, trying to in effect re-educate them to be adherents to the Chinese Communist Party, all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide,” he said.
China previously sanctioned Republican lawmakers in July in retaliation for blacklisting Chinese government officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.