The Chinese government has sanctioned several former Trump administration officials, including the outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, accusing them of having “seriously violated” China’s sovereignty.
Beijing took the move a day after the Trump administration declared that the repression and detention of more than 1m Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang amounted to genocide.
The Chinese foreign ministry said it was sanctioning 28 individuals. The targets include Matt Pottinger, the recently departed deputy national security adviser who was one of the main drivers of the administration’s hawkish approach towards Beijing over the past four years.
They also targeted Robert O’Brien, who was national security adviser until Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th US president on Wednesday, and John Bolton, who was his predecessor in the top security position.
“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the US, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China . . . have executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs . . . and seriously disrupted China-US relations,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
The sanctioned former officials and their families would be barred from entering mainland China and also Hong Kong and Macau, it said, and companies and institutions associated with the 28 targets would also be restricted from conducting business with China.
The move marks the latest deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing which have reached levels not seen since diplomatic ties were established more than three decades ago.
Mr Biden has vowed to take a tough stance on China, and last year described Chinese president Xi Jinping as a “thug”. He recently appointed Kurt Campbell, a veteran foreign policy expert, to serve as a new Asia tsar, in a move that underscored the rising challenges from China.
But few experts believe that Mr Biden will be as aggressive as the Trump administration has been, particularly over the past year.
The Chinese foreign ministry statement on Wednesday only listed the names of 10 of the Americans who have been sanctioned.
They also included Peter Navarro, a China hawk who served as a top trade official in the White House, and Steve Bannon, another outspoken critic of China who served as Mr Trump’s presidential campaign manager and White House strategist until he was fired after seven months.
As Mr Trump left office on Wednesday he issued a pardon to Mr Bannon, who had been charged with bilking hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who donated to a fund to build a border wall. Mr Bannon last year pleaded not guilty and had been released on bail pending trial.
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