Beijing singles out 6 Republican lawmakers in retaliatory sanctions

August 10, 2020, 10:08 AM UTC

On Monday, Beijing announced sanctions on 11 Americans, including six Republican members of Congress, in retaliation for the U.S. imposing similar measures on officials in Hong Kong and mainland China last week.

“In response to the U.S.’s wrong behaviors, China has decided to impose sanctions on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong–related issues,” China foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference on Monday.

Zhao did not specify what the retaliatory sanctions will entail, but said that Beijing will target the following individuals:

Marco Rubio, U.S. senator (R–Fla.)

Ted Cruz, U.S. senator (R–Texas)

Josh Hawley, U.S. senator (R–Mo.)

Tom Cotton, U.S. senator (R–Ark.)

Pat Toomey, U.S. senator (R–Pa.)

Chris Smith, U.S. representative (R–N.J.)

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy

Derek Mitchell, president of the National Democratic Institute

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House

Daniel Twining, president of the International Republican Institute

China previously imposed sanctions on Rubio, Cruz, and Smith in July for their efforts to punish China over the government’s suppression of its Uighur minority in China’s western Xinjiang province. The other politicians are also known as China hawks. Hawley and Cotton, for example, have helped spearhead the Trump administration’s more aggressive approach to China in recent months.

In response to Monday’s sanctions, Roth said on Twitter that the sanctions against him are “little more than an effort to distract attention from its wholesale assault on the rights of the people of Hong Kong.” Roth also cited a January essay about Hong Kong he wrote for Human Rights Watch called China’s Global Threat to Human Rights as a reason why the Chinese government has targeted him.

Some of the same organizations targeted on Monday—the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican Institute—were included in sanctions Beijing issued in December over the U.S.’s passage of the Human Rights and Democracy Act. The December sanctions targeted each organization as a whole, while the new sanctions single out each organization’s leader.

“These NGOs have supported anti-China forces to create chaos in Hong Kong, and made utmost efforts to encourage these forces to engage in extreme violent criminal acts, and also hyped separatism activities in Hong Kong,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said of the December sanctions. The organizations have denied allegations that they helped stir unrest or helped fund protests in Hong Kong.

The sanctions the U.S. announced on Friday targeted Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and director of the Hong Kong and Macau affairs office Xia Baolong, plus nine other government officials in Hong Kong and mainland China, whom the U.S. claims were involved in what it sees as the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong. The U.S. government will seize all property and freeze any existing assets that the sanctioned individuals hold in the U.S. The sanctioned individuals will be barred from any future travel to the U.S. or any transactions with American entities.

“The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement on Friday.