After the United States government moved to sanction Chinese officials for alleged human rights violations against Uighurs in the province of Xinjiang, Beijing has responded by announcing their sanctions of top US Republicans.
China's retaliation against the US
According to BBC, included in the list of affected officials are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two outspoken critics of China who have previously expressed their disapproval of Beijing's actions. However, the exact nature of the sanctions remains unclear.
The accusations against China state that the nation has been abusing and unjustly detaining its Muslim minorities residing in Xinjiang but Beijing has since denied the allegations stating it treated the Uighurs according to the law.
Rubio is a senator in Florida while Cruz represents Texas and the pair have previously gone against United States President Donald Trump in 2016 for the Republication presidential nomination.
Beijing also sanctioned Christ Smith, a Republican Congressman, Sam Brownback from International Religious Freedom, as well as the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
China's foreign ministry announced that the sanctions were placed as retaliation for the US government's wrongdoing against the Chinese nationals.
Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing is urging the US to immediately revert its sanctions on the Chinese officials and cease all criticisms and interference against China's domestic affairs that result in the deterioration of the country's reputation.
Hua did not detail the nature of the sanctions but noted that Chinese officials would base their next actions depending on how the US will react and move regarding the situation.
China's alleged human rights violations
In response to China's actions, the US Treasury issued a statement on Friday saying the Chinese nationals that have been sanctioned are individuals who were found to have been involved in severe human rights violations against Uighurs in Xinjiang, as reported by The Guardian.
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, previously reassured the US would not leave China to its devices in threatening the lives of its residents.
The accusations state that China has detained more than one million Muslim Uighurs in re-education camps within the Xinjiang region. Beijing has said the camps were used as vocational training centers that aim to reduce terrorism.
Families and investigators claim that individuals who are kept within the camps are forced to denounce their language and religion as well as have their children transferred to orphanages. German research last week revealed that Chinese authorities were forcing sterilization of Uighur women in an attempt to curb their population, as reported USA Today.
The sanctioned Chinese officials include the Communist Party's Chen Quanguo, who is considered to be the maker of Beijing's anti-Uighur policies. Quanguo, along with other officials that have been punished, has had their visa banned and their US assets were frozen.
In recent weeks, US-China tensions have been rising due to a number of incidents including trade deals, the coronavirus pandemic, and Beijing's passing of controversial new security law in Hong Kong that undermines the political freedom of the city's residents.