China has announced unspecified sanctions against 11 US politicians and heads of organisations promoting democratic causes, including senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the 11 had “performed badly” on issues concerning Hong Kong, where China has cracked down on opposition voices following its imposition of a national security law in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city last month.
The number of Americans named by the ministry exactly equals the number of Hong Kong and Chinese officials placed on a sanctions list by the US last week over the crackdown. China showed its determination to defy such pressure by arresting leading independent media tycoon Jimmy Lai and raiding the publisher’s headquarters.
Others named by the foreign ministry included senators Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton and representative Chris Smith. Heads of organisations including the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House were also named.
Beijing had already placed a travel ban on Mr Rubio, Mr Cruz and Mr Smith last month after Washington announced similar measures against Chinese officials linked to measures taken against Muslims in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang.