China on Friday slapped sanctions on two Americans, a former senior State Department official and a congressional aide, according to state media.
The financial and travel sanctions on Miles Maochun Yu and Todd Stein were imposed in response to U.S. sanctions announced Dec. 9 on two Chinese officials over human rights abuses in Tibet, the official Xinhua news agency stated.
“In accordance with China‘s anti-foreign sanctions law, the Chinese side has decided to take reciprocal sanctions against Miles Maochun Yu and Todd Stein,” the Foreign Ministry announced.
The sanctions target the two Americans’ assets in China and bar organizations and people in China from engaging with them.
Mr. Yu and Mr. Stein and their families are also blocked from traveling to China.
Mr. Yu, a former columnist for The Washington Times who was born in China’s Sichuan province, served as a senior policymaker to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the Trump administration. He now is a professor of Chinese military history at the U.S. Naval Academy and a senior fellow at several think tanks. He is also director of the China Center at the Hudson Institute.
Mr. Yu said he is not surprised by the sanctions, which are not the first time he has been targeted by Beijing.
“Everyone who has uttered a word or conducted a deed disliked by the [Chinese Communist Party] would be targeted by the CCP’s sanctions and punishments,” he said.
The list of foreigners sanctioned is long, he said. They include Western scholars, public officials, sports figures, corporate executives and others “threatened with such a broadly defined sanction and punishment system in China.”
“What is surprising to me, however, is how vague the PRC government’s sanction order is,” he said, using the abbreviation for People’s Republic of China.
“Unlike statements by U.S. government officials regarding the sanctions against the Chinese officials earlier this month, the sanction order against me gives no specific reasons.”
The lack of details is mostly likely because his work related to China and its relations with the U.S. is “generally truthful, and the CCP is a regime frightened by truths,” he said.
On Twitter, Mr. Yu dismissed the sanctions. “A badge of honor to be sanctioned once again today by the Beijing government, the enemy of the Chinese people. Let freedom ring!” he wrote.
Mr. Yu was instrumental in formulating the major U.S. policy shift that recognized China as a threat and strategic competitor during the Trump administration.
Mr. Stein is deputy staff director with the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
Mr. Stein said he is not concerned by the Chinese action.
“This doesn’t matter,” he said. “What matters is the thousands of prisoners of conscience jailed by Chinese authorities. Let’s not divert attention from their human rights abuses.”A State Department spokesman also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Chinese Communist Party-affiliated Global Times said the sanctions on Mr. Yu and Mr. Stein were the first time countersanctions have been imposed.
“We must continue to consolidate this impression in the hearts of provocateurs who are preparing to move against China, and shape the outside world’s awe of China‘s national interests through resolute counterattacks,” the outlet stated.
Although he is a naturalized American, Mr. Yu was described as “the No.1 contemporary traitor.”
Global Times also issued a veiled threat against him: “Since ancient times, all those who have betrayed the country and the nation have met a tragic end. Yu‘s can’t be any better.”
The Hong Kong Democracy Council, a human rights group, tweeted: “Miles & Todd are allies of the #HongKong freedom struggle & should be proud of the CCP’s ‘recognition’ of their work.”