BEIJING: US officials who have engaged in “nasty behaviour” over Chinese-claimed Taiwan will face sanctions, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after Washington lifted curbs on exchanges between US and Taiwanese officials.
Sino-US ties have worsened as China has already condemned this month’s easing, announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s presidency.
Further adding to China’s anger, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, spoke last week to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, after a planned trip to Taipei was called off.
Asked at a daily news briefing how China would follow through on its pledge to make the United States “pay a heavy price” for its engagements with Taiwan, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said some US officials would face sanctions.
“Owing to the wrong actions of the United States, China has decided to impose sanctions on responsible US officials who have engaged in nasty behaviour on the Taiwan issue,” she said, without elaborating.
When asked about US sanctions on six mainland and Hong Kong officials announced last Friday over the mass arrests in Hong Kong, Hua said that China has decided to impose sanctions on US officials, members of Congress, personnel at non-governmental organisations and their family members over their “nasty behaviour” on the Hong Kong issue.
China said last month it would sanction US individuals as a reciprocal response to the US sanctions on more than a dozen Chinese officials. It was unclear from Hua’s reply on Monday whether the Hong Kong-related sanctions were new.
Hua also did not specify the names of the US officials under sanction and the nature of the sanctions.
Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in as president on Wednesday, and a new team will take over at the State Department, including a new secretary of state.
China says Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in its relationship with the United States, and has previously announced sanctions on US companies selling weapons to Taiwan, though it has not been clear how, or if, they were enforced.
Beijing has responded to increased US support for Taiwan, including arms sales and visits by senior US officials, by stepping up military activity near the island, including flying its air force aircraft nearby.
Relations between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, have plunged to their lowest level in decades, with disagreements on issues including Taiwan, Hong Kong, human rights, the coronavirus pandemic, the South China Sea, trade and espionage.
China last year unveiled sanctions on 11 US citizens, including lawmakers from Trump’s Republican Party, in response to Washington’s sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials accused of curtailing political freedom in the former British colony.