• No officials of the Trump administration were slapped with sanctions
  • Rubio and Cruz are two of the most vocal supporters of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists
  • Toomey has also spoken out against China’s policies in Hong Kong

In retaliation for similar acts by the U.S., China has sanctioned 11 Americans, including Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Pat Toomey, Bloomberg reported.

However, no officials of the Trump administration were slapped with sanctions.

“In response to the U.S.’ wrong behaviors, China has decided to impose sanctions on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday.

Zhao’s statement did not explain what such sanctions will actually mean.

Sanctions by Beijing were also imposed upon Rep. Chris Smith (R.-N.J.); Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth; National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman; and Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House.

On Friday, the Trump administration placed sanctions on 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, over their support of China’s controversial national security law which critics contend will compromise the city-state’s autonomy.

Rubio and Cruz, two of the most vocal supporters of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in the U.S. government, were already hit with other sanctions by China in July in an apparent response to their comments about Beijing’s internment of Uighur Muslims in the far western Xinjiang province.

On Monday, Rubio sarcastically tweeted: “Last month China banned me. Today they sanctioned me. I don’t want to be paranoid but I am starting to think they don’t like me.”

Toomey has also spoken out against China’s policies in Hong Kong and praised the Trump administration’s sanctions.

"The Chinese Communist Party has been systematically eroding the basic freedoms that they themselves have promised to the people of Hong Kong," Toomey said. "Those responsible must be held accountable. Today's action is another important signal to the world that the United States stands behind the people of Hong Kong in their fight for freedom.”

In January of this year, Roth of HRW was forbidden entry into Hong Kong over his criticism of China’s suppression of human rights.

“I had hoped to spotlight Beijing’s deepening assault on international efforts to uphold human rights,” Roth said at the time. “The refusal to let me enter Hong Kong vividly illustrates the problem.”

Among other things, Gershman of NED has praised the exiled Dalai Lama, one of Beijing’s bitterest critics.

Last month, in celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday, Gershman wrote: “[His] birthday offers us an opportunity to reflect upon his growing international relevance at this very difficult moment in human history.”

In April 2020, Abramowitz of Freedom House told the George W. Bush Presidential Center: “What’s really quite interesting and concerning in China is substantial economic growth, but in an increasingly authoritarian context where China is getting less free. That's of deep concern. In the long-term, it's very hard to have economic growth in a restricted setting where people are being essentially persecuted for their beliefs and for thinking creatively. That is going to be a problem for China.”