Some of the most outspoken critics of China –– US Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz along with Congressman Chris Smith –– are among those targeted by Beijing, as well as the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

A poster is seen near the White House in Washington DC, US, as people gathered to call on the Trump administration to act against China over allegations of Uighur abuses. July 3, 2020.
A poster is seen near the White House in Washington DC, US, as people gathered to call on the Trump administration to act against China over allegations of Uighur abuses. July 3, 2020. (Reuters)

China will ban entry to US Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Congress Representative Chris Smith and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback over their criticism of the ruling Communist Party’s policies toward minority groups and people of faith.

China's foreign ministry announced the retaliatory "corresponding sanctions" on Monday as a row with the US over Beijing's treatment of Muslim Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region deepens.

Rubio, Cruz, Smith and Brownback are amongst some of the most outspoken critics of China.

US scrutiny on Communist Party chief in Xinjiang

The travel bans appear to be direct retaliation for the US imposition of sanctions on four Chinese officials, including Chen Quanguo, who heads the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where more than 1 million members of Muslim minority groups have been incarcerated in what China terms de-radicalisation and retraining centres.

Critics have likened the camps to prisons to which inmates are sentenced with little due process and where they are compelled to denounce their religion, language and culture and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday that actions by the US had “seriously damaged China-US relations" and that China was determined to uphold its national sovereignty against what it sees as interference in its internal affairs.

“China will respond further according to the development of the situation," Hua said.

There was no indication that any of the four US officials had plans to travel to China.

Sanctions will also be applied on the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an agency that monitors human rights in the Asian country.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies