China has introduced sanctions against a number of US officials and entities, including Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, thereby retaliating against Washington's move to introduce sanctions targeting senior Chinese officials over alleged abuses against the Uighur Muslim population in the western region of Xinjiang. Other officials targeted by the restrictions are Sam Brownback, United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Representative Chris Smith.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying announced the decision during a daily briefing, adding the "sanctions" against the four officials would take effect starting on Monday.
The US Congress passed legislation in May calling for sanctions against Chinese officials for the alleged detention and torture of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, a territory in northwestern China that is home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uighur people.
The move came as Human Rights Watch recently accused China of abusing about 13 million Turkic Muslims, including Uighurs and ethnic Kazakhs, in the Xinjiang region. Beijing has denied the allegations of abuse and said it would stand up in defence and take counter-moves against any US restrictions.
In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged China to "cease its campaign of repression" against "Uighur and other minority women", hours after the Associated Press, citing an advanced copy of research conducted by China scholar Adrian Zenz, reported that the Chinese government has been carrying out the practice of forced birth control in order to curb the Muslim population in Xinjiang, China.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry promptly condemned the report as "fake news", and spokesman Zhao Lijian told AP that everyone residing in the country, "regardless of whether they’re an ethnic minority or Han Chinese, must follow and act in accordance with the law".
'List of Grievances is Long'
According to Francesco Sisci, a Beijing-based Italian sinologist, author and columnist, "the list of US grievances against China" is long and is poised only to grow in the near future. The commentator notes that while the US domestic politics is "divided on almost everything", both sides from the aisle agree on one thing - the opposition to China.
Whatever the case, Mr. Sisci assumes, the biggest tensions are still ahead:
"President Donald Trump claims he was the first to put his foot down on China, his opponents respond that Trump's uncoordinated approach, lacking long-term strategy, is hurting the US and helping China," the analyst says concluding that it is possible that after the November presidential vote, the new administration will focus "more and with greater sense of purpose on China."