China has said it is blacklisting seven Taiwan officials over their alleged support for the self-ruled island’s independence.
The group will be banned from entering mainland China and the territories of Hong Kong and Macau, and restricted from working with Chinese officials, state news agency Xinhua said, citing a spokesperson from the Taiwan Work Office of the ruling Communist Party.
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The seven officials targeted by Beijing include Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s representative in the United States.
Xinhua said the “punitive measures” were necessary to “safeguard the peaceful development of the cross-Strait relations and the immediate interests of the people on both sides of the Strait”.
The Communist Party’s Global Times tabloid described them as “diehard secessionists”.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the territory.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in response to the sanctions that the island was a democracy that “could not be interfered with by China.
“Even more, we cannot accept threats and menace from authoritarian and totalitarian systems,” ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou told reporters in Taipei, the Reuters news agency reported.
Beijing has stepped up pressure on the island since the visit earlier this month of United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conducting several days of war games around the island and withdrawing cooperation with the US in a number of areas, including climate.
The military continued the exercises on Monday, as a group of US legislators visited Taipei and were due to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
While it maintains diplomatic relations with Beijing, the US is Taiwan’s biggest supporter and is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
Taiwan says the island’s 23 million people should be the ones to determine their future.
The sanctions are unlikely to have much impact on the Taiwanese officials because they do not travel to the mainland.