Even as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was heading to China on a diplomatic mission, the Chinese imposed retaliatory sanctions against several American people and entities, including former U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Chinese state media portrayed the move as a deliberate humiliation of Sherman and the rest of the Biden administration.
China’s sanctions were meant as a response to the U.S. sanctioning several Chinese officials involved in the security crackdown on Hong Kong. The Chinese government was also enraged by the Biden administration warning American corporations that doing business in Hong Kong might no longer be safe, thanks to the authoritarian “national security law” imposed by Beijing last year.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said its retaliatory sanctions were intended to punish the U.S. government for “groundlessly smearing Hong Kong’s business environment” and “gravely violating international law and basic norms governing international relations.”
According to Voice of America News, in addition to Ross, China sanctioned:
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Chairman Carolyn Bartholomew, former Congressional-Executive Commission on China staff director Jonathan Stivers, DoYun Kim from the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute associate director Adam King, Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson and the Hong Kong Democracy Council
Richardson dismissed the Chinese sanctions as a “tantrum” and “noise” that would not “distract us from continuing to do our work.” The Hong Kong Democracy Council cheekily welcomed the sanctions as an award in recognition of its outstanding advocacy of human rights.
Our full statement on being sanctioned by Beijing:
"HKDC and Six Individuals in the US Recognized by PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights Advocacy"
— HKDC – Hong Kong Democracy Council (@hkdc_us) July 23, 2021
China’s state-run Global Times portrayed the sanctions as a “No More Mister Nice Guy” shift from China’s supposedly polite behavior toward the increasingly unreasonable United States.
According to the Global Times, retaliatory sanctions could be the “new normal” because Beijing will no longer tolerate being addressed in a “condescending manner” by American officials. The Chinese Foreign Minister was particularly irked by a State Department spokesman claiming Sherman was visiting China “from a position of strength.”
“If the U.S. still has not learned how to treat other countries equally, then China, together with the international community, has a responsibility to teach the U.S.,” growled Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The Global Times made several taunting references to Wang and other Chinese diplomats ambushing Wendy Sherman’s boss, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at a summit in Alaska in March. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) views this first encounter with the Biden administration as a major diplomatic victory for China.
Wu Xinbo of Fudan University chortled:
Since US President Joe Biden took office, his administration has been following strategies from the Trump era featuring the heavy pressure and dealing with China in a cold way. However, such an approach has been less effective than he anticipated, and Biden is looking for another way around.
Wu said the Biden administration would learn that China “has its own rules which the U.S. must abide [by],” including “not interfering in China’s internal affairs and not infringing on China’s core interests.”
Another Global Times editorial on Sunday added that Biden’s team needed to learn that further inquiries on the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus would not be tolerated.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pushing back against renewed interest in the possible origins of the disease at the Wuhan Institute of Virology by pushing its own lunatic conspiracy theory that Chinese coronavirus actually came from a U.S. Army lab in Maryland.
The Global Times hinted that China is prepared to meet every demand for more transparency from Wuhan by screaming even louder about Ft. Detrick, Maryland, and by claiming the U.S. is only pretending to care about the Wuhan Institute of Virology to distract from its own failures at controlling the pandemic:
The Biden administration is fully copying the Trump administration’s line of political hooliganism: using every means to frame China. As the epidemic continues to rage in the US, Washington is finding it hard to directly shift its responsibility to China. Therefore they are playing the “COVID-19 origins card” fiercely, and comprehensively politicized a task that should have been scientifically advanced as nothing mobilizes Americans more than politics. Making Americans mad can make them stupid. Then they will feel that the ridiculous notion that China is responsible for US’ failure to fight the pandemic “makes sense.”
The vast majority of scientists and US media outlets last year publicly disapproved the allegation of a “lab leak” from Wuhan Institute of Virology. Recently, a large number of them changed their stance, and did not believe the conclusion that the link between the Wuhan Virology Institute and the epidemic had been basically ruled out after the WHO expert team visited the lab last year. A large part of the American scientific and public opinion community was apparently “fooled” by the Biden administration and became “political animals” to follow the politicians.
“In dealing with the U.S. on controversial issues, China must understand that there is no reasoning with the U.S. at all. We only reason with the world, and we have no choice but to play hardball with the U.S.,” the Global Times advised.
“We need to make sure that whatever Washington says is in vain, and let the world see its rhetoric as a joke. The world will ultimately see Washington paying the price for its wrong China policy,” the editorial concluded, setting a menacing tone for Sherman’s visit.