China Sanctions Cruz, Rubio for Criticism of Human Rights Abuses

Senator Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) / Getty Images
July 13, 2020

Beijing issued new sanctions on three Republican lawmakers and a Trump administration official Monday, according to the Associated Press.

In response to U.S. sanctions on party officials over the country's treatment of Uyghur Muslims, China unleashed sanctions of its own on Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), as well as Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

PRC Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the recent U.S. sanctions on Chinese officials "seriously damaged China-U.S. relations" and that China is determined to protect itself from foreign interference. She said the sanctions would parallel the American sanctions, which ban the entry of certain Chinese officials to the United States.

At least 1 million Chinese Uyghurs are currently detained in "de-radicalization and retraining centers," where they are forced to work in brutal conditions and disavow their faith. One report alleged Uyghur women are coerced to use birth control and are subjected to compulsory sterilization.

Rubio sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and helped pass the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in May. "The Chinese Government and Communist Party's systematic, ongoing efforts to wipe out the ethnic and cultural identities of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is horrific and will be a stain on humanity should we refuse to act," Rubio said at the time.

The Florida senator also serves as co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which monitors rule of law and human rights abuses in the country.

Cruz also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and assisted in drafting the human rights legislation. He tweeted about the sanctions Monday morning.

Smith has also sponsored legislation condemning human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. "This is now one of the world's most pressing human rights challenges," he said in January 2019. "The Chinese government is engaged in an appalling campaign to forcibly assimilate and destroy the religion and culture of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims—we cannot be silent when such atrocities occur."