In response to announced US sanctions against Chinese politicians accused of oppressing Muslims in the Xinjiang region, China has announced punitive measures against US politicians and officials. A spokeswoman for the Beijing State Department said the measures were directed against the US Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and the China Committee of the US Congress.

"We urge the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision and stop using words and deeds that interfere with China's domestic affairs and harm China's interests," said the spokeswoman. Penalties have also been imposed on Sam Brownback, the United States' special envoy for religious freedom, and Congressman Chris Smith. Without giving details, the spokeswoman said that these are measures that would "correspond" to those of the United States.

The US government last week imposed sanctions on leading Chinese politicians and an institution accused of suppressing the Uighur Muslim minority. "The US will not stand by as the Chinese Communist Party commits human rights abuses against Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other minorities in Xinjiang," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

As a punitive measure, Pompeo imposed entry bans on three party members and their families and announced the freezing of assets in the United States, including the head of the Communist Party in Xinjiang and the provincial security chief.

According to human rights organizations, more than a million Uighurs and other Muslims are detained in detention centers in Xinjiang. According to the activists, they are forced to give up their religion, culture and language and are sometimes ill-treated. Beijing rejects the allegations and speaks of "educational centers" that served to fight Islamist radicalization.

Relations between China and the United States are currently at a low. In addition to the dispute over human rights violations, there are conflicts over the autonomy of the Chinese Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the coronavirus pandemic and trade issues.