China announced, on Tuesday, the imposition of sanctions on four members of the International Religious Freedom Committee of the US government in response to the sanctions imposed against Chinese officials following complaints about violations in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Mutual sanctions are adding to escalating tension around Xinjiang, where Washington earlier banned imports from the region that could be produced without workers being paid, while activists called for a boycott of the February Winter Olympics in Beijing.
China denied the accusations of violations, and responded earlier by publishing calls for a boycott of foreign shoes and clothing.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the committee chairwoman and three members of the United States are banned from visiting mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and any assets they have in the country will be frozen.
Zhao identified the individuals who were sanctioned: Committee Chair Nadine Mainza, Vice Chair Nuri Turkel, and members Anorima Bhargava and James Carr. Zhao did not indicate whether they had origins in China.
China threatened retaliation after the US Treasury announced on December 10 that it imposed sanctions on two officials accused of involvement in the suppression of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, where Beijing faces accusations of mass arrests, forced abortions and other abuses.