On Monday, the oppressive People’s Republic of China announced it would slap sanctions on Sen.s Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as on Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback. Their crime? Condemning the Communist regime’s brutal oppression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, where Muslims are forced into “re-education camps” and many of the women are sterilized.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Cruz, Rubio, Smith, and Brownback had “seriously damaged China-U.S. relations.” Hua insisted that China was determined to uphold its national sovereignty against what it claims to be interference in its internal affairs, the Associated Press reported. The Communist government also reportedly banned them from entering the country.
“China will respond further according to the development of the situation,” she added.
In addition to these Republican officials, China announced sanctions on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
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Hua did not spell out the specific sanctions against Americans, insisting that they would correspond to American sanctions placed on four senior Chinese officials. Americans sanctioned Chen Quanguo, who heads the northwestern region of Xinjiang; Zhu Hailun, party secretary of the Xinjiang political and legal committee; Wang Mingshan, party secretary of the Xinjiang public security bureau; and Huo Liujun, a former top official in Xinjiang’s police force. The U.S. prohibited Americans from carrying out any property transactions with these officials and barred three of them from entering the U.S.
The U.S. sanctions came as a response to China’s brutal imprisonment of 1 million members of Muslim minority groups in what China defends as de-radicalization and retraining centers.
Human rights activists have compared the camps to prisons and worse, claiming that inmates are sentenced there with little due process. The Uyghurs (the largest Muslim minority targeted) and others are compelled to denounce their religion, language, and culture and to pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping. According to an Associated Press investigation, Uyghur women are forced to use birth control or undergo involuntary sterilizations.
This horrific mistreatment has contributed to worsening relations between the U.S. and China. China’s coronavirus malfeasance, its aggressive takeover of Hong Kong, its attacks on the religious freedom of Christians, and other issues like trade have worsened relations even further. The Trump administration also instituted visa bans on Chinese officials deemed responsible for barring foreigners’ access to Tibet.
Last December, Xinjiang authorities claimed that the camps had closed and all detainees had “graduated,” a claim difficult to corroborate independently. Some Uyghurs and Kazakhs have told the AP that their relatives have been released, but others say their loved ones remain in detention. In October 2019, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials believed to be responsible for the mistreatment of Uyghurs and it blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese companies and agencies linked to abuses in the region.
Upon learning of the China ban, Cruz sardonically tweeted, “Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran.”
He later clarified that he “did not have plans to travel to Beijing, where the CCP commits egregious human rights atrocities, suppresses its people, & allowed [COVID-19] to become a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 570K people worldwide.”
For his part, Rubio responded, “I guess they don’t like me?”
Considering the Chinese Communist Party’s nefarious acts on coronavirus and its infamous human rights abuses against both Christians and Muslims, perhaps Brownback, Cruz, Rubio and Smith should be proud to find themselves the objects of China’s ire. They must be doing something right.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.