China will “definitely fight back” against actions it considers interference in its internal affairs and that which threaten its sovereignty, security and development interests, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing, according to AP.
Zhao said China “strongly opposes and condemns” the Trump administration’s decision to bar the three officials from entering the US, the latest in a series of moves taken against China as relations deteriorate over the coronavirus pandemic, human rights, Hong Kong and trade.
“In response to the wrong practice of the US, China decided to take reciprocal measures against the relevant US institutions and individuals who performed badly on the Xinjiang-related issues,” Zhao said.
The US administration’s Thursday announcement comes a day after it slapped visa bans on Chinese officials who have claimed they are responsible for barring foreigners’ access to Tibet. Thursday’s step, however, hits a more senior level of leadership, targeting Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s ranking leader and a member of the party’s Politburo, along with regional security officials, Zhu Hailun and Wang Mingshan.
They and their immediate family members are banned from entering the United States.
The sanctions were announced a week after an AP investigation claimed forced population control of the Uighurs and other largely Muslim minorities, one of the reasons cited by the State Department for the sanctions.
“The United States will not stand idly by as the Chinese Communist Party carries out human rights abuses targeting Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.