In the latest flare-up between the United States and China, an Arkansas lawmaker has found himself under sanctions from the Chinese government.
China announced on Monday, Aug. 10 that it was sanctioning U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), along with 10 other U.S. citizens, for actions related to Hong Kong. The other individuals facing sanctions include five members of Congress: Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Chris Smith, as well as the heads of several organizations, including the Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
The sanctions come after the U.S. government imposed sanctions against Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong chief executive, and 10 other Chinese and Hong Kong officials. As a result of the U.S. sanctions, the officials have had all U.S. assets frozen and will be barred from conducting business with U.S. citizens, as well as being unable to travel to the United States.
On Friday, Aug. 7, the U.S. imposed the sanctions in response to alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang region of China. Officials have reported human rights abuses in the area, including mass detainment and torture of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic groups.
The individuals and organizations that have come under sanctions from China – a largely symbolic act – have been critical of the Chinese government in the past. In an April article, Politico called Cotton the “GOP’s No. 1 coronavirus China hawk.” Cotton has blamed China for the global pandemic, and according to the article, has said that the United States must “exact a very steep price from China” as a result.
When China announced the sanctions against him and the other individuals, Cotton released a statement calling China “the most dangerous threat to freedom in the world” and that he planned to continue fighting against the Chinese regime.
“The Chinese Communist Party imposed these impotent sanctions against me because I defend the real victims of Chinese Communism: the millions of Americans harmed by the Wuhan coronavirus, the workers whose factories shut down and moved offshore to China, the businesses and inventors whose property has been stolen, the Chinese Christians and missionaries whose churches have been razed by bulldozers, the Uighurs and other minorities languishing in concentration camps, the Hong Kong students fighting desperately for their democracy, and the Chinese people trapped in a high-tech communist tyranny. Chinese Communism is the most dangerous threat to freedom in the world, and I will never back down from fighting it. If China thinks my opposition to its communist tyranny to date warrants these sanctions, I have two words for them: just wait,” he said.