China sanctions senior US lawmaker Michael McCaul for visiting Taiwan

China’s foreign ministry on Thursday sanctioned chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul for visiting Taiwan, saying he had sent a “serious wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces.”

China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory and strongly objects to all high-level engagements between foreign and Taiwanese officials, especially if it involves Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

McCaul visited Taipei last week and met Tsai, pledging to help provide training for Taiwan’s armed forces and to speed up the delivery of weapons.

China’s foreign ministry said McCaul, a Republican, had frequently interfered in China’s internal affairs with his words and actions and harmed China’s interests.

He recently led a delegation to Taiwan “seriously harming China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and sending a serious wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces”, it added.

According to China’s anti-sanctions law, McCaul will not be allowed to enter the country, be banned from interacting with organizations and individuals in China and any assets of his in China will be frozen, the ministry said.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach McCaul for comment.

China says Taiwan is the single most important and sensitive issue in its relations with the United States.

Taiwan’s government rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

China has a track record of sanctioning foreign lawmakers and officials, often for criticizing China, speaking in support of Taiwan, or visiting the island, as happened to a deputy Lithuanian minister following her visit to Taipei last year.

In early 2021, China sanctioned some Trump administration officials including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, minutes after Joe Biden was sworn in as the new president of the United States.

China has also sanctioned several senior Taiwanese officials.

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