Two U.S. citizens sanctioned by China in retaliation for U.S. sanctions issued over rights abuses in Tibet say they don’t care and focus should remain on Beijing’s treatment of ethnic minorities.
China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday announced sanctions against American historian Miles Yu and Todd Stein, a deputy staff director on the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Both are banned from traveling to China or contacting anyone there.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China is a bipartisan body made up of members of congress and mandated to provide an annual report about human rights and the rule of law in China. It has regularly reported on rights abuses in both Xinjiang and Tibet.
Xinhua News Agency, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, reported that the sanctions were issued in direct retaliation to U.S. sanctions issued against two Chinese citizens on Dec. 9, in accordance with China’s Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law.
Stein, who has also worked as a lobbyist for the International Campaign for Tibet, said the sanctions did not concern him.
“This doesn’t matter,” Stein told Radio Free Asia. “What matters is the thousands of prisoners of conscience jailed by Chinese authorities. Let’s not divert attention from their human rights abuses.”
Yu, a historian who also serves as director of the China Center at the Hudson Institute, said he took the sanctions from Beijing in stride.
“The sanctions against me show that what I have been doing is right,” Yu told RFA, adding that the sanctions “are not meaningful.”
He said the U.S. sanctioning of Chinese officials for their “actions against humanity and human rights is a very just thing to do, and also a very chic thing to do” and may have inspired Beijing.
“Now the Chinese government announced its sanctions against me, which sounds like [they’re] copying to be chic,” said Yu, who was adviser to the Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
On Dec. 9, the United States announced a range of sanctions on foreign officials, including two Chinese officials in the Tibetan Autonomous Region: former provincial party secretary Wu Yingjie and Tibetan Public Security Bureau chief Zhang Hongbo.
The pair were accused of leading Beijing’s program of “stability policies” in Tibet, which the U.S. Treasury Department said had included “serious human rights abuse, including extrajudicial killings, physical abuse, arbitrary arrests, and mass detentions.”