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China sanctions 7 Taiwanese ‘independence diehard’ officials amid tensions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen during her recent visit to the self-ruled island. (Photo by Taiwan Presidential Office)

China has imposed sanctions on several Taiwanese officials and lawmakers, accusing them of being "independence diehards", amid heightened tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Tuesday that seven officials and lawmakers were sanctioned, including Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, Secretary-General of Taiwan's National Security Council Wellington Koo, and politicians from Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

"For some time, a few diehard separatist elements, out of their own interests, have gone to lengths to collude with external forces in provocations advocating Taiwan independence," a Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson said, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

"Their activities became all the more egregious during the visit by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to China's Taiwan region, further exposing their obstinate nature in seeking Taiwan independence."

Those sanctioned would be banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau, and any companies and investors related to them would also be prohibited from profiting in China.

The sanctions imposed on Tuesday come as the latest fallout of the controversial trip by Pelosi, who is third in the line of succession to the US presidency, to Chinese Taipei.

China has long opposed US interference in the self-ruled island as well as regular visits to the territory by US officials despite Washington's formal recognition of the “one-China” policy.

Under the internationally-recognized “one-China” policy, nearly all countries recognize Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan, including the United States.

However, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington continues to court the secessionist government in Taipei, supporting its anti-China stance and supplying it with massive caches of armament.

In response to Pelosi's visit, China held unprecedented military drills around the island and suspended some lines of dialogue with Washington.

Beijing has previously hit Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and parliament Speaker You Si-kun with punitive measures.

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