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China sanctions Pompeo, Bolton, 26 others on Biden inauguration day

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and China's Xi Jinping. (U.S. State Department photos/Released)
January 20, 2021

On Wednesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced new sanctions on 28 U.S. individuals, targeting current and former members of President Donald Trump’s outgoing administration, such as Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

Announcing the sanctions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “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 Chinese government is firmly resolved to defend China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests,” the Chinese Foreign ministry continued. “China has decided to sanction 28 persons who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues”

In addition to sanctioning Pompeo, the outgoing secretary of state, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced sanctions on members of the outgoing Trump administration, including Peter K. Navarro, Robert C. O’Brien, David R. Stilwell, Matthew Pottinger, Alex M. Azar II, Keith J. Krach, and Kelly D. K. Craft.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also announced a sanction against John Bolton, who served as national security advisor to President Trump until September of 2019. China also sanctioned, Steve Bannon, another former Trump administration official who split with the White House in 2017.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not announce the full list of 28 people facing sanctions.

The sanctions announcement coincided with President Joe Biden’s inauguration, as the Trump administration coming to an end. The timing left the Trump administration without an ability to issue its own retaliatory sanctions against Chinese officials.

Throughout his presidency, Trump sought to put pressure on China.

On Tuesday, Pompeo officially declared China has committed “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” against the Muslims and ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

Craft and Krach also drew negative attention from China for their communications with Taiwanese officials. While China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, and the U.S. recognizes Taiwan as part of China’s territory, the Trump administration increasingly communicated with Taiwanese officials in recent months. Last week Craft, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., was scheduled to visit Taiwan to meet directly with Taiwanese officials, but the trip was canceled. Craft instead spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen by video conference call.

Navarro was another Trump administration official who challenged China throughout trade negotiations, and as the global coronavirus pandemic spread, he accused China of nationalizing U.S. medical equipment manufacturers operating in China, preventing them from exporting their supplies of medical masks and gowns around the world and only permitting them to sell those products to China.