China has announced prohibitive measures against “lying and cheating” outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other top officials under Donald Trump ― even as it said on 20 January that it wanted to cooperate with the Joe Biden administration.
The move was a sign of China’s anger, especially at the determination Pompeo made on his final full day in office that China had committed genocide against its Uyghur Muslims, an assessment that Biden’s choice to succeed Pompeo, Anthony Blinken, said he shared.
In a striking repudiation of its relationship with Washington, DC, under Trump, China announced the prohibitions in a statement that appeared on its website around the time that Biden was taking the presidential oath.
Pompeo and the others had “planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.
The other outgoing and former Trump officials sanctioned included trade chief Peter Navarro, National Security Advisers Robert O’Brien and John Bolton, Health Secretary Alex Azar, UN ambassador Kelly Craft and former top Trump aide Steve Bannon.
The 28 former officials and immediate family members are now debarred from entering mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao. Companies and institutions associated with these ex-officials cannot do business with China.
Pompeo and others sanctioned did not respond to requests for comment. The US State Department did not respond.
Brian O’Toole, a sanctions expert at the Atlantic Council think tank, saw China’s move as retaliatory and “political statements more than anything else.”
“I suspect they will default to more of a case-by-case application than a well-defined restriction,” he said.
China has imposed sanctions on US lawmakers in the past year, but targeting former and outgoing US officials was an unusual expression of disdain.
Pompeo, who unleashed a barrage of measures against China in his final weeks in office, declared on 19 January that China had committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” against Uyghur Muslims.
Blinken said on 19 January he agreed with the assessment.
“The forcing of men, women and children into concentration camps; trying to, in effect, re-educate them to be adherents to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide,” Blinken said.
China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse in its Xinjiang region, where a United Nations panel has said at least 1 million Uighurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.
Responding to the Xinjiang allegations, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a media briefing: “Pompeo has made so many lies in recent years, and this is just another bold-faced lie.”
“This US politician is notorious for lying and cheating, is making himself a laughing stock and a clown.”
Hua said China hoped “the new administration will work together with China in the spirit of mutual respect, properly handle differences and conduct more win-win cooperation in more sectors.”
“We hope the new US administration can have their own reasonable and cool-minded judgment on Xinjiang issues, among other issues.”