China imposes sanctions on Taiwanese figures to punish the US and the island


China imposed visa bans and other sanctions on Taiwanese political figures on Tuesday as pressure mounts on the self-governing island and the US in response to successive visits by Congress.

The sanctions come a day after China conducted further military exercises in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan in response to what it called “collusion and provocation between the United States and Taiwan.” There has been no word on the timing and scale of the Chinese exercises.

They were announced on the same day a US Congressional delegation met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and after a similar visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking member of the US government to visit Taiwan in 25 years. The Chinese government opposes Taiwan having any official contact with foreign governments because it considers Taiwan its own territory, and its recent saber rattling has emphasized its threat to take the island by military force.

Pelosi’s visit was followed by nearly two weeks of threatening Chinese military exercises that included missile launches on the island and raids by navy ships and fighter jets across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, long it has been a buffer between the sides.

In Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that China had overreacted with its “provocative and wholly unnecessary response to the congressional delegation that visited Taiwan earlier this month.”

The targets of China’s latest sanctions include Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US Bi-khim Hsiao and lawmakers Ker Chien-ming, Koo Li-hsiung, Tsai Chi-chang, Chen Jiau-hua and Wang Ting-yu, along with activist Lin Fei-fan.

They will be barred from traveling to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, and from having financial or personal connections with people and entities in those areas, according to the ruling Communist Party’s Taiwan Labor Office.

The measures were designed to “resolutely punish” those deemed “hardliners” who support Taiwan independence, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Premier Su Tseng-chang, Legislative Leader You Si-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu were already on China’s sanctions list and will face further restrictions, Xinhua said.

China exercises no legal authority over Taiwan and it is unclear what effect the sanctions would have. China has refused all contact with the Taiwanese government since shortly after the election of Tsai in 2016, who was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020.

Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party also controls the legislature, and the vast majority of Taiwanese favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence amid strong economic and social connections between the parties.

China accuses the US of encouraging the island’s independence through arms sales and compromise between US politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island and maintains the two sides must resolve their dispute peacefully, but is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against attack.

Taiwan has put its military on alert but has not taken any major countermeasures against the Chinese measures. That has been reflected in the prevailing calm and widespread ambivalence among the public, which has lived under the threat of Chinese attack for more than seven decades.

Taiwan announced surface-to-air missile and air force exercises for Thursday and Friday.

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