China’s communist government has announced sanctions against Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, presumably in response to each man’s criticisms of the Beijing government’s human rights violations.
The two senators are among others targeted by the Chinese Communist Party as a retaliation for State Department sanctions announced against China for its alleged mistreatment of minority Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the country’s interior Xinjiang region, according to multiple reports.
The State Department last week announced sanctions and visa restrictions against officials assocated with the detention and abuse of ethnic and religious minorities, including the Uighur Muslims.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on July 9 that a number of prominent Chinese government officials and their families were ineligible for entry into the U.S. over the human rights dispute.
“The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“The United States is taking action today against the horrific and systematic abuses in Xinjiang and calls on all nations who share our concerns about the CCP’s attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms to join us in condemning this behavior.”
China fired back Monday, and announced the sanctions against Cruz and Rubio, along with GOP Rep. Chris Smith and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, The Associated Press reported.
Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the sanctions imposed by the U.S. “seriously damaged China-U.S. relations,” and argued the issue was about China protecting its national sovereignty against international interference in its affairs.
“China will respond further according to the development of the situation,” she said, the AP reported.
The move on the U.S. lawmakers is largely symbolic, according to the reports, but the Chinese sanctions saw the country go after some its most ardent critics.
In a Twitter post Monday, Cruz responded sarcastically to being targeted by name by the CCP.
“Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran,” he wrote.
Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran. https://t.co/PXE7jZaZt1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 13, 2020
Rubio also made light of the Chinese sanctions on Twitter, writing, “The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country.”
“I guess they don’t like me?” he added.
The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country.
I guess they don’t like me?
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 13, 2020
Both Cruz and Rubio are routinely critical of China, as is Rep. Smith, who represents New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District.
Smith criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping on Twitter earlier this month.
Xi Jinping’s assault on #HongKong democracy activists is the latest example of the Chinese Communist Party’s cruelty and weakness.
Click ?to read my press release: https://t.co/N5G9R3iKtS
— Rep. Chris Smith (@RepChrisSmith) July 1, 2020
Brownback, meanwhile, signaled his support last week for the sanctions announced by Pompeo.
Accountability a long time coming for Chen Quanguo, Zhu Hailun, & Wang Mingshan, the CCP officials for whom @SecPompeo restricted visas for gross violations of human rights in #Xinjiang, including #religiousfreedom abuses, against #Uyghurs & other Muslims. https://t.co/lkjfu7nLYL
— Ambassador Sam Brownback (@IRF_Ambassador) July 9, 2020
According to a report from PBS News Hour, there are more than a million Uighurs being held in at least 85 detention centers in northwest China.
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