Top Republicans have urged US President Joe Biden on Friday to take tougher action against China after Beijing announced sanctions on outgoing American officials just minutes into Biden taking office, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Michael McCaul, the leading Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted that Beijing had shown its true colours by sanctioning US officials for telling the truth - that the Communist Party was "guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide".
"I strongly urge the Biden administration to quickly condemn these baseless, impotent sanctions and make good on its early commitments to prioritise strategic competition with the [Communist Party]," he said.
Analyst Sarah Zheng writing for SCMP viewed that political consensus in Washington for a tougher policy on China had hardened and Beijing's increasingly assertive foreign policy would make it difficult for an easing in the strategic rivalry.
China had announced sanctions against a list of US individuals and their families just minutes after Biden was sworn in on Thursday.
The list included former members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trade Adviser Peter Navarro, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, Health Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger.
China's foreign ministry accused them of "seriously violating China's sovereignty" and being largely responsible for a "series of crazy moves" in the US policy on China, reported SCMP.
"China has pointed out multiple times that these anti-China politicians will pay for their crazy acts," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
"We hope the new US administration will view China and China-US relations in an objective and rational manner."
Chinese action against the US officials came in the backdrop of Pompeo's statement on Beijing's repression of Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities in the far western region of Xinjiang that amounted to "genocide and crimes", said Sarah Zheng.
Moreover, Washington had earlier imposed sanctions against Chinese officials and entities over the policies in Xinjiang, as well as on Hong Kong and Chinese officials over Beijing's political crackdown in Hong Kong.
Jim Risch, head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted on Thursday that in sanctioning 28 national security officials, China's Communist Party was already testing the Biden administration's "resolve to continue a tougher, competitive approach towards China".
"Together, Republicans [and] Democrats must show Beijing we will not be deterred from defending US interests," he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Biden's National Security Council called the Chinese sanctions "unproductive and cynical", urging Americans from both parties to criticise the move.