Beijing sanctions 'lying, crazy Pompeo and crew'

Top News | REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 22 Jan 2021

Beijing has declared a willingness to cooperate with US President Joe Biden's new administration while sanctioning "lying and cheating" outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo and 27 other top officials under Donald Trump.

The sanctions were a sign of anger, especially at an accusation Pompeo made on his final full day in office that China had committed genocide against Uygurs - an assessment that Biden's choice to succeed Pompeo, Anthony Blinken, shared.

In a striking repudiation of its relationship with Washington under Trump, the foreign ministry announced the sanctions around the time Biden was taking the presidential oath.

It said Pompeo and the others "planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people and seriously disrupted China-US relations."

The other former Trump officials sanctioned included trade chief Peter Navarro, security advisers Robert O'Brien and John Bolton, health secretary Alex Azar and United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft and one-time top aide Steve Bannon.

The 28 officials and family members are banned from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, and firms and institutions linked to them are restricted from doing business with China.

Brian O'Toole, a sanctions expert at the Atlantic Council, saw China's move as "political statements more than anything else."

He added: "I suspect they will default to more of a case-by-case application than a well-defined restriction."

Beijing has imposed sanctions on American legislators in the past year, but targeting former and outgoing US officials was an unusual expression of disdain.

Pompeo, who unleashed a barrage of measures against China in his final weeks in office, said China committed genocide and crimes against humanity involving Uygurs.

Beijing has rejected repeatedly accusations of abuse in Xinjiang, where a UN panel has said at least one million Uygurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.

Responding to the Xinjiang allegations, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "Pompeo has made so many lies in recent years, and this is just another bold-faced lie."

She added: "This US politician is notorious for lying and cheating [and] is making himself a laughing stock and a clown."

Now, Hua added, Beijing hopes "the new administration will work together with China in the spirit of mutual respect."

There is also hope "the new US administration can have its own reasonable and cool-minded judgment on Xinjiang issues" among other things.

Beijing also said it welcomed news that the United States would rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord.

Biden is expected to remain tough on China but commit to international cooperation after one-term president Trump's divisive "America First" approach.

"With cooperation from both sides, the better angels in China-US relations will beat the evil forces," Hua said.

She said Biden had used the word "unity" several times in his inauguration speech. And that, Hua added, is "precisely what is needed currently in US-China relations."



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