China announced on Monday the imposition of sanctions against three senior US Republicans and a diplomat, as part of a growing row between the two countries over Beijing’s handling of the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang region.
The move targeted prominent figures in its opposition to China, namely Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz and House Representative Chris Smith, as well as the US State Department's Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
Beijing announced these unspecified "similar sanctions" days after the US decision to ban visas for a number of Chinese officials and freeze their assets on the background of violations in the Xinjiang region. American sanctions included the secretary of the Communist Party in the region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Xunying said her country's move was "in response to the wrong US actions."
"We urge the United States to immediately back down from its wrong decision and stop declarations and steps that are interference in internal affairs and harm Chinese interests," she said. "China will respond further, based on the development of the situation," she added.
The Beijing sanctions are also targeted at the US Congressional Committee on China, which is charged with monitoring the human rights situation in the Asian country.
A few days ago, the United States imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for violations of the Uighur minority, and also called on Beijing to respect its human rights obligations.
For its part, Washington announced that it would ban three senior Chinese officials and members of their families from obtaining visas to enter the country due to "horrific and systematic violations" against Uighurs and other Muslims belonging to Turkish peoples.
Among the officials who will be banned from entering is Chen Quangyu, secretary of the Communist Party of Xinjiang, who is the architect of Beijing's tough policies toward minorities, according to Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo.