The sanctions are the latest escalation in a growing dispute between Western nations and Beijing over the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly in Xinjiang province.
Chinese sanctions target the chairman and vice chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins. USCIRF condemned China’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Muslim Uyghur population and endorsed recent US sanctions against Chinese officials.
Beijing has also targeted Canadian MP Michael Chong, vice-chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. The foreign affairs subcommittee on international human rights was also sanctioned.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee released a report earlier this month, based on meetings of the subcommittee, which concluded that human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in China constituted crimes against humanity and genocide.
Chinese sanctions prohibit officials from entering mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao, and prohibit Chinese citizens and institutions from doing business with officials and trading with the human rights subcommittee.
The sanctions come in response to punitive measures the United States imposed on two Chinese officials earlier this week. The Biden administration said it imposed the sanctions in response to human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims.
The US sanctions targeted Chinese Wang Junzheng, secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.
The two officials have been targeted for their connection to “arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse, among other serious human rights violations targeting Uyghurs,” the Treasury said in a statement on Monday.
Canada has also imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for the treatment of Uyghurs.