Biden Administration: China’s Sanctions of Trump Officials ‘Unproductive and Cynical’

January 21, 2021 Updated: January 21, 2021

The Chinese Communist Party’s sanctions of Trump administration officials, imposed on President Donald Trump’s last day in office, are “unproductive and cynical,” President Joe Biden’s National Security Council spokeswoman said on Jan. 20.

The Party sanctioned former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and former trade adviser Peter Navarro along with 25 others, at about the time Biden was being sworn into office.

The sanctions were announced about 24 hours after Pompeo declared the CCP’s repression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region a “genocide.” The reasoning for the sanctions was violating “China’s sovereignty” and carrying out “a series of crazy moves” that “seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations.”

“Imposing these sanctions on Inauguration Day is seemingly an attempt to play to partisan divides,” Biden’s NSC spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement to news outlets.

“Americans of both parties should criticize this unproductive and cynical move. President Biden looks forward to working with leaders in both parties to position America to out-compete China,” she added.

Biden gives inauguration speech
President Joe Biden delivers his inauguration speech after being sworn in as the 46th president at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021. (Patrick Semansky/AFP via Getty Images)

On the “War Room” podcast, Navarro called the sanctions “a badge of honor from the country that gave us the China virus and the loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs and over 70,000 factories.”

“Ultimately what we need to do is stop American capital from flowing directly into China, or indirectly through Hong Kong,” he added.

Pompeo said that after a careful examination of the facts, he determined that China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, “has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.

“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” he added, in an assessment backed by Biden’s secretary of state nominee.

The party has for years detained Uyghurs in labor camps in Xinjiang, a desert region that abuts Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. A U.S. official said in a briefing in 2019 that up to 3 million of the approximately 10 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang are in “concentration camps.”

Researcher Adrian Zenz said in a report (pdf) in 2020 that he found evidence of a widespread campaign to sterilize Uyghurs, as natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically since 2015.

“These findings provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” he wrote.

Cathy He contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber