They, along with any companies and institutions associated with them, are “restricted from doing business with China,” and their immediate family members will be prohibited from entering China’s mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, the Chinese government said in a release.
China’s Foreign Ministry said these officials, dubbed “anti-China politicians,” were sanctioned due to their “selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people.”
They claimed those sanctioned “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 announcement was made moments after Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States. The move to sanction Pompeo also comes one day after the former secretary of state offered a harsh rebuke of China’s maltreatment of its Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.
Pompeo said the Chinese government’s policies on Muslims and ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region constituted “crimes against humanity,” going so far as to call it “genocide,” in an online statement posted Tuesday.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” the statement read.
The U.S. has long criticized China for its persecution of its Uighur population, citing reports of forced birth control, abortions and sterilizations, as well as alleging widespread torture and abuse of ethnic minority groups who were in detention camps.
Under Pompeo, the U.S. government has also implemented a wide range of sanctions against senior members of the Chinese Communist Party and state-run enterprises “that fund the architecture of repression across Xinjiang.”
Also on China’s list were former White House trade advisor Peter K. Navarro, former U.S. president Donald Trump’s national security advisor Robert O’Brien, and Kelly Craft, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The sanctions are indicative of the relationship between China and the U.S., which has soured over the last four years.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump has repeatedly blamed the Chinese government for its handling of the initial spread of the respiratory illness, even referring to it as the “China virus” in his farewell address.
The Trump administration moved to ban TikTok and WeChat in August in an effort to purge U.S. digital networks of what he claimed were “untrusted” Chinese apps, calling them “significant threats” to the country’s national security.
In July, former U.S. attorney general Bill Barr accused U.S. companies of becoming “pawns of Chinese influence,” and described a plot by the Chinese government to “to overthrow the rules-based international system and to make the world safe for dictatorship.”
“The People’s Republic of China is now engaged in an economic blitzkrieg—an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower,” Barr said.
China has indicated that Biden’s presidency could mean improvement for the two nations, after what Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi described as a period of “unprecedented difficulty” on Jan. 2.
Without mentioning Biden or Trump by name, Wang spoke of “a new window of hope” for reconciliation.
“We know some people in the United States are apprehensive about China’s rapid development, but the most sustainable leadership is to constantly move forward yourself, rather than block the development of other countries,” he said.