China announced on Monday that it was sanctioning four US officials in response to US sanctions that targeted Chinese officials for Beijing’s alleged mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. China’s measures target Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Sam Brownback, who is President Trump’s envoy for religious freedom.
Beijing followed through on its promise to retaliate against similar US measures that were announced on Thursday. “Xinjiang is entirely the internal affair of China, and the US has no right to interfere,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
All four officials China targeted are outspoken critics of Beijing. Rep. Smith introduced a bill in April that would open up the possibility for US citizens to sue China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Rubio and Cruz have been major proponents of anti-China legislation that has passed through Congress.
Rubio has also hosted leaders of Hong Kong’s protest movement in Washington and sponsored the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that was signed into law by President Trump in 2019 and could lead to more sanctions against Chinese officials.