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Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday it would sanction 28 "anti-China" U.S. politicians, including a slew of top officials from the outgoing Trump administration such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser John Bolton and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Between the lines, via Axios China expert Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Chinese government officials have traditionally decried the use of unilateral sanctions by Western countries, even though China regularly blocks foreign companies and individuals from its markets for perceived political slights.

  • But as its tit-for-tat battle with Washington has drawn on, Beijing has adopted the use of traditional sanctions in direct response to U.S. sanctions of Chinese government officials.
  • The sanctions also come one day after Pompeo announced the U.S. government has determined China's repression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region amounts to genocide, a decision that has infuriated Beijing.

What they're saying: "[S]ome anti-China politicians in the United States, out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against China and showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people, have planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

  • "The Chinese government is firmly resolved to defend China's national sovereignty, security and development interests. China has decided to sanction 28 persons who have seriously violated China's sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such U.S. moves on China-related issues."

Details: The sanctions will restrict the named individuals from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao. The officials and companies they are "associated" with will also be restricted from doing business with China, though whether and to what extent this prohibition will be enforced isn't clear.

Other noteworthy names in the sanctions list include:

  • Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro.
  • National security adviser Robert O'Brien.
  • Former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
  • United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft.
  • Assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs David Stilwell.
  • Undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment Keith Krach.

The big picture: This is not the first time Beijing has targeted China hawks in the U.S. who they accuse of meddling in domestic affairs. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) were among those sanctioned last year for their criticism of China's human rights abuses.

Go deeper ... Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Go deeper

China to stop recognizing special U.K. passport for Hong Kong residents

A person holds up a British National (Overseas) passport in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

China will no longer recognize the British National Overseas passport as a valid travel document or proof of identity, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Friday.

Why it matters: The announcement comes amid heightened tensions with the United Kingdom over its plan to offer potentially millions of Hong Kong residents a path to residency, and eventual citizenship.

Scoop: Top Trump Homeland Security officials join Heritage

Former DHS acting Secretary Chad Wolf. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan, three of former President Trump's biggest immigration policy defenders, will join the Heritage Foundation on Monday as fellows, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: All three former Homeland Security officials consistently backed Trump and were key in implementing his strict immigration agenda. Now, they will continue to shape conservative policy ideas on national security and foreign policy from the outside.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
34 mins ago - Energy & Environment

The road to COP26 gets slightly easier

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly.

Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.