Last week, the US sanctioned three Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against Muslims in the region of Xinjiang. On Monday, China retaliated with sanctions of its own against four US officials—Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Rep. Chris Smith, and Sam Brownback, who is the US ambassador for international religious freedom. Bloomberg sees the move as largely symbolic, though it notes that the US sanctions didn't hit anyone as high-ranking as Cruz and Rubio. "The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country," tweeted Rubio. "I guess they don't like me?" The two senators and Smith sit on the US Congressional Executive Commission on China, and all have been critical of Beijing's treatment of ethnic Uighurs.
“Xinjiang affairs are China’s internal affairs and the US has no right to interfere in them,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, per the Washington Post. “We urge the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision." She did not provide details on what the sanctions entailed but said they were similar in scope to the American sanctions from last week, which barred the Chinese officials from traveling to the US or conducting property transactions here, reports the AP. It doesn't appear any of the US officials had plans to travel to China in the near future. (Read more China stories.)