A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced on Thursday that the government has decided to impose sanctions against former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other high-ranking officials of the Trump administration, accusing them of "prejudice and hatred" against Beijing.
The announcement came a day after Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the US on Wednesday. Former President Donald Trump did not attend the ceremony. Soon after, a spokeswoman for President Joe Biden's National Security Council said that the move was "unproductive and cynical," urging Americans from both parties to condemn the action.
"Imposing these sanctions on Inauguration Day is seemingly an attempt to play to partisan divides," Biden's National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement to Reuters.
China's move to sanction former Trump administration officials
Besides Pompeo, the other individuals include Peter Navarro (incumbent Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy), Robert O'Brien (former National Security Adviser), David R. Stilwell (former Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs), Matthew Pottinger (former Deputy National Security Advisor), Alex Azar (former Secretary of Health and Human Services), Keith J. Krach (incumbent Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment), and Kelly Craft (former Ambassador to the UN), John Bolton (former National Security Advisor) and Stephen K. Bannon (former White House Chief Strategist), reported agencies.
The spokesperson said that these individuals "have been mainly responsible for a series of crazy US moves on China-related issues". "These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. "They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China," the spokesperson said.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said: "Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the US, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed the crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations."
The spokesperson further said that the Beijing government was "firmly resolved to defend China's national sovereignty, security and development interests". Addressing a press briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying claimed that the Trump administration had made numerous "fundamental mistakes", resulting in "serious damage" to bilateral ties.
US Look at China
Hua hoped that the new administration under Biden would "look at China rationally and objectively, meet China halfway and, in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, push China-US relations back to the right track of healthy and stable development as soon as possible", CNN reported.
Thursday's announcement came more than a week after Pompeo on January 11 announced that the US would lift decades-old restrictions on contacts between American and Taiwanese officials, a decision which prompted threats from China.
In another statement which came less than 24 hours before leaving office, the former Secretary of State declared that China "has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang".
"I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state," he added. The Trump administration had also directly blamed China for the global coronavirus crisis.
(With inputs from agencies)