China sanctions US officers for “dangerous conduct” towards Taiwan

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying attends a press conference in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) – US officials who “behaved badly” over China’s alleged Taiwan will face sanctions, the Chinese State Department said Monday after Washington lifted restrictions on US-Taiwanese exchanges Officials had repealed.

Sino-US relations have deteriorated as China has already condemned this month’s easing announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the final days of President Donald Trump’s presidency.

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week after a planned trip to Taipei was canceled.

Asked at a daily press conference how China would keep its promise to make the United States “pay a high price” for its engagements with Taiwan, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said some US officials would face sanctions.

“Due to the wrongdoing of the United States, China has decided to sanction responsible US officials who have behaved badly over the Taiwan issue,” she said without elaborating.

When asked about U.S. sanctions against six mainland and Hong Kong officials announced last Friday over the mass arrests in Hong Kong, Hua said China had decided to impose sanctions on U.S. officials, members of Congress, NGO employees and their families to impose on their “bad behavior” on the Hong Kong issue.

China said last month it would sanction US individuals in mutual response to US sanctions against more than a dozen Chinese officials. It was not clear from Hua’s response on Monday whether the Hong Kong-related sanctions were new.

Hua also failed to disclose the names of the sanctioned US officials and the nature of the sanctions.

Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in as president Wednesday, and a new team will take over the State Department, including a new Secretary of State.

China says Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in its relations with the United States and has previously announced sanctions against US companies selling weapons to Taiwan, although it was not clear how or if they were enforced.

Beijing has responded to increased U.S. support for Taiwan, including arms sales and visits to senior U.S. officials, by stepping up military activities near the island, including flying its air force planes nearby.

Relations between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, have fallen to their lowest level in decades. There was disagreement on issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, the South China Sea, trade and espionage.

China unveiled sanctions against 11 U.S. citizens, including Trump Republican Party lawmakers, last year in response to Washington’s sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials accused of restricting political freedom in the former British colony.

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