China imposed sanctions Wednesday on more than two dozen former Trump administration officials, including outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, just as President Biden was sworn into office.
The latest sanctions followed years of contentious relations between top Trump officials and their counterparts in Beijing. The named U.S. officials face travel bans and business-related restrictions.
“Over the past few years, some anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Aside from Pompeo, other officials tagged with sanctions included trade advisor Peter Navarro, former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, current national security adviser Robert O’Brien, former national security advisor John Bolton and former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.
The Trump administration took a hardline stance toward China during the former president’s term in office. The implementation of sweeping tariffs on Chinese-made goods prompted a lengthy trade war between the U.S. and China.
The two sides reached a preliminary trade agreement just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic began. Since March, Trump regularly referred to COVID-19 as the “China Virus” and accused Beijing of covering up the severity and extent of the pandemic in its early days.
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As the face of U.S. foreign policy, Pompeo was a frequent critic of China’s actions, including the Beijing regime’s treatment of minority Muslim groups held in concentration camps and subjected to forced labor in Xinjiang.
Earlier this week, Pompeo referred to China’s treatment of minority Muslim groups as a “genocide,” a potential precursor to further sanctions on top Chinese officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.