China on Monday morning announced sanctions against 11 U.S. politicians and heads of organizations that have been critical of China, including Republican U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
In a statement reported by The Wall Street Journal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said “In response to the erroneous actions of the U.S., China has decided to impose sanctions today on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues.”
The “erroneous actions,” Zhao referenced were U.S. sanctions announced Friday which targeted 11 Chinese officials involved in implementing China’s new national security legislation over the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong.
Along with Rubio and Cruz, the U.S. officials included in China’s retaliatory sanctions are Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, all of whom have been critical of China’s actions in Hong Kong.
The Associated Press reported the other U.S. individuals facing Chinese sanctions included Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, National Democratic Institute President Derek Mitchell, International Republican Institute President Daniel Twining, and Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz.
It was not immediately clear how the Chinese sanctions will affect the U.S. individuals listed. The Wall Street Journal reported the sanctions may be largely symbolic in nature as China had already announced sanctions against Rubio, Cruz and other individuals listed in the new sanctions announcement.
Rubio responded to the new sanctions on Twitter, saying, “Last month #China banned me. Today they sanctioned me. I don’t want to be paranoid but I am starting to think they don’t like me.”
Last month #China banned me
Today they sanctioned me
I don’t want to be paranoid but I am starting to think they don’t like mehttps://t.co/Pk9yH1io3Z
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 10, 2020
The U.S. saw a similar round of diplomatic retaliation from China after ordering the Chinese Consulate General in Houston, Texas to close last month. China responded to the Houston consulate closure with its own order for the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu to close.
President Donald Trump’s administration has challenged China on a number of fronts in recent months, including sanctions on Chinese officials involved in implementing the national security legislation over Hong Kong, as well as for several individuals and entities involved in the internment of ethnic-minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The U.S. State Department also announced new actions to keep Chinese companies out of critical U.S. technology projects.