Foreign Policy Trade

State Department Sanctions Chinese Officials

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Following the Commerce Department's decision to add over 20 Chinese companies to the department's "blacklist" that prohibits American firms from doing business with them, the State Department has also imposed sanctions on Chinese government officials who are allegedly responsible for the poor treatment of Muslim minorities.

Like the prior decision, this decision also comes at a very peculiar time as trade talks are set to resume in Washington tomorrow.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the measures target officials “who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention and abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups” in the territory in northwest China. It follows the administration’s move on Monday to blacklist 28 public security entities and companies alleged to be involved in surveillance and detention of minority groups, effectively restricting U.S. companies from doing business with them. [...]

Also this week, organizations and businesses in China moved to cut off relationships with the National Basketball Association after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the pro-democracy movement in semi-autonomous Hong Kong. China’s communist regime has opposed the movement for self-determination in Hong Kong.

In addition to the Commerce Department and State Department's sanctions and the NBA's dispute, the Blizzard Entertainment video game company also recently sanctioned an e-sports player who spoke out in support of protests in Hong Kong.

Now, all of these things may not seem related, but I believe they are. I believe all of this is an extension of Trump's trade war and the de-coupling of our economies he has set in motion.

Trump has poisoned diplomatic discourse by consistently lying about trade, degraded our moral authority by running his own concentration camps for immigrants and imposing a Muslim ban, strained economic ties by pressuring companies to move out of China, and fostered a generally hostile environment in which virtually anything including something as inconsequential as a video game tournament can become a diplomatic and economic flashpoint.

The general manager of an NBA team wouldn't have to speak out, and a video game company wouldn't feel the need to discipline their own customers and players, if the White House actually took a strong position and spoke out before anyone else felt compelled to. But as we know, Trump explicitly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he wouldn't say anything about protests in Hong Kong while trade talks are ongoing.

The Trump regime is imposing sanctions on various Chinese firms and officials because Trump thinks it will pressure China's ruling communist party to tell President Xi Jinping that it's okay to give up on trade. He's also refusing to speak out on Hong Kong because he thinks that helps Jinping.

Trump thinks he's applying pressure, but he's actually playing into Chinese hands on both ends. Hardliners will be incensed by Trump's sanctions and Jinping doesn't actually need Trump's help with Hong Kong, though I'm sure he appreciates it.

  • Draxiar

    Good for Daryl Morey! More should speak up in support of Hong Kong and let China throw their temper fit. Their lack of free speech there does not constitute a lack of it here.

  • muselet

    As I said yesterday, no one in this administration—specifically including Mike Pompeo—cares about the Uighurs or the Kazakhs or any other minority group in China. This is simply another pathetic attempt to apply leverage in US/China trade talks.

    And it will fail, like all previous attempts, because Donald Trump is crap at negotiating.

    –alopecia