National Security

China Hits U.S. Lawmakers And Pro-Democracy Leaders With Sanctions

Beijing on Monday announced a new round of unspecified sanctions on 11 Americans, including senators and leaders of pro-democracy nonprofit organizations, the Associated Press reported.

The sanctions will target Sens. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Ted Cruz (R., Tex.), Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), and Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), all outspoken advocates for action against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They also take aim at Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and leaders of pro-democracy groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, International Republican Institute, and Freedom House, among others.

According to CCP spokesman Zhao Lijian, the 11 officials have "performed badly" on issues pertaining to Hong Kong sovereignty. China committed a hostile takeover of Hong Kong earlier this summer, where elections are now suspended and the draconian "Beijing model" of governance is now in place. Washington sanctioned Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last week to signal its concern about these moves.

"The relevant actions of the U.S. blatantly intervened in Hong Kong affairs, grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, and seriously violated international law and the basic norms of international relations," Zhao said Monday.

"China urges the U.S. to have a clear understanding of the situation, correct mistakes, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs."

Such sanctions are not China’s first act of relation against American critics in recent months. Beijing sanctioned Cruz and Rubio earlier this summer from traveling to China on the grounds of their opposition to the oppression of Uighur Muslims in western China.

Monday’s sanctions did little to silence China's critics. "The Chinese Communist Party imposed these impotent sanctions against me because I defend the real victims of Chinese Communism," Sen. Cotton said in a statement. "If China thinks my opposition to its communist tyranny to date warrants these sanctions, I have two words for them: Just wait."

One defense expert said that if the CCP’s measures would have any effect in Washington, it would be the opposite of the regime's intended aims."By targeting Republican political leaders, Beijing is likely aiming to divide them from Democrats on China policy. But this effort will fail," American Enterprise Institute scholar Zack Cooper told the Washington Free Beacon.

"The American debate on China policy has changed in large part because of the Communist Party's own repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, as well as its disinformation and coercion abroad," Cooper added. "Until Beijing changes this behavior, sanctioning Americans will only unify leaders in Washington."