Minutes after Wednesday noon in Washington as Joe Biden was being sworn in as 46th US president, China’s Foreign Ministry announced sanctions on 28 anti-China politicians under the former president including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo in a move that was characterized by Chinese experts as a well-timed and vigorous demonstration of Beijing’s bottom line in the fightback against anti-China forces.
In a statement released on its website around Wednesday midnight (Beijing time), the ministry said that over the last few years, some anti-China politicians in the US, including Pompeo, out of selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, had planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people and seriously disrupted China-US relations.
The ministry said that China had decided to sanction them for seriously violating China’s sovereignty who were mainly responsible for such US moves on China-related issues including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former White House advisor Peter Navarro who pushed the yearlong trade war against China, former national security advisor Robert O’Brien, China strategist Matthew Pottinger and Steve Bannon, a former White House adviser and one of Washington’s most strident China hawks.
Other officials sanctioned by the Chinese government included David Stilwell, Alex Azar, Keith Krach and Kelly Craft of the Trump administration as well as former national security adviser John Bolton.
These individuals and their immediate family members were prohibited from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. Companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China.
The sanctioned individuals have also been smearing and attacking China on multiple fronts, including sovereignty-related issues such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the island of Taiwan by spreading conspiracies and fake accusations.
As officials in national security sector, O’Brien was infamous for attacking China by calling the country the threat of century while Pottinger has been sticking to the ideological battle by shaping anti-China frontline.
The following US diplomats and envoys including David Stilwell, Alex Azar, Keith Krach and Kelly Craft have interacted and even paid visit to the island Taiwan, which severely challenged the bottom-line of China.
Trump’s advisors including Bannon and Bolton have been infamous for helping shaping the aggressive anti-China policies that aimed to fully contain China on economy, trade, high-tech and so on.
Chinese experts said the sanctions were a “top-notch response” to those who have been poisoning China-US relations in the past few years and also the most straightforward way of drawing Beijing’s “bottom line and red line” on future China-US relations.
The sanctions were “completely reciprocal,” Diao Daming, an expert on US studies at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.
“These officials during their tenure hugely undermined China-US relations and harmed the Chinese people totally out of their own selfish interests and obsessions,” he said. “China must respond to their ill-intentioned moves. There must be no such thing as playing the China card on stage and continuing to harm China after stepping down.”
China also decided to sanction these individuals as they were leaving their positions, Diao noted. This move showed China’s great restraint and sincerity in the hope of stabilizing China-US relations for the future, he believed.
Hua has noted several times in recent weeks that Pompeo and his peers would face such a trial for their attacks against China and their damage to China-US relations.
The message was clear. It aimed to punish former officials who contained China in a reckless manner, telling those politicians that they should bear the consequences and meanwhile send out a warning to the US that when it comes to China policy, it should always respect China’s core interests and safeguard the bottom line of ethics and regulations, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.
Lü Xiang, an expert of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times Thursday that in US politics, there was a revolving door for US politicians to be employed in private sector companies, financial institutes and think tanks after they leave office.
The sanctions would seriously affect “the politicians’ road for gaining money,” Lü said. “For instance, like Stilwell on the sanction list, we met in Washington when he was going to retire from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2015,” Lü said. “At that time, the issues that most interested him were about doing business.”
Lü noted that with the deeply intertwined economic ties between the two countries, most major US companies, financial institutes and think tanks would unavoidably need to develop ties with China, making them reluctant to hire the sanctioned people.
“This powerful sanction is also a warning to the officials who want to be the next Pompeo,” Lü said.
It was true that some extreme anti-China activists on the list might not care about the sanctions as “anti-China” was what they did for a living, Lü said, but not all of them could do this for living all of the time.
“When these people were in office, they jumped like mad dogs and used their power to make a mess of the China-US relationship. China would never allow people to make money on the Chinese market while attacking the country,” Shen Yi, a professor at the School of International Relations and Public Affairs of Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times.
For example, if a publisher wanted to give them a memoir or sell books to the Chinese market, that would be “impossible,” Shen said.
As the old saying goes, “What goes around comes around” Shen said. “Now is the right time. These individuals and companies can no longer benefit from the development of the China-US relationship.”