China on Tuesday announced sanctions on seven "die-hard" pro-independence Taiwanese politicians and officials, including Taipei's representative to Washington, amid concerns over the increasing visits by foreign dignitaries to the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.
The sanctions were announced by Beijing following trips to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August and a US Congressional delegation led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey on Monday.
Also Last week, Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agne Vaiciukeviciute visited Taiwan. Lithuania is part of the European Union.
China has already imposed sanctions against Pelosi and Agne and held high-intensity military drills in Taiwan Strait, sparking fears of an armed conflict with Taiwan, which China claims as part of its mainland.
After Pelosi's visit, China is concerned that there will be a flurry of visits by top officials from the US and allied countries to the self-ruled Island.
China announced sanctions against seven Taiwanese government officials and politicians, saying they pushed a pro-independence agenda for the breakaway island.
The Taiwan Affairs Office of the ruling Communist Party of China said on Tuesday those sanctioned and their family members would not be allowed to enter mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau. They will not be permitted to do business with the Chinese mainland.
Their affiliated companies and financial sponsors would not be allowed to gain profits from the mainland, a spokesman of the office was quoted by state-run Xinhua as saying.
The Taiwan office would take other necessary measures and those sanctioned would be held accountable for life," the spokesman said.
For a period of time, a small number of Taiwan independence die-hards have tried their best to collude with external forces to carry out independence' provocations, deliberately inciting cross-strait confrontation, and wantonly undermining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait. They performed extremely poorly during Pelosi's trip to Taiwan, China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman said.
The names of die-hard separatists announced Tuesday are only a part of the list," the spokesperson said.
Among the seven people on the sanction list, six are members of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Taiwan. They include Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's representative to the US and Ker Chien-ming, the DPP caucus head of the legislature.
Others included Wang Ting-yu, a legislator who sits on the foreign relations and defence committee, Wellington Koo, secretary general of the island's National Security Council, Tsai Chi-chang, vice-speaker of Taiwan's legislature, and Lin Fei-fan, deputy secretary general of the DPP.
The non-DPP member sanctioned is Chen Jiau-hua, New Power Party legislator and chairwoman, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
In December last, China announced sanctions against Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan's legislature president You Si-kun and Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
The businesses related to them, as well as their sponsors, are prohibited from engaging in profit-making activities on the mainland. Other punitive measures will also be taken. They will be held to lifelong accountability according to law, the spokesperson said.
Sanctions are also imposed on the president of the "Taiwan Foundation for Democracy," and the secretary general of the "International Cooperation and Development Fund."
On Monday, China resorted to more high-intensity military drills around Taiwan to "safeguard national sovereignty" as Taiwan's president met with members of a new US congressional delegation visiting the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing, challenging its 'one China' policy.
The US Congressional delegation led by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Markey arrived in Taipei on an unannounced two-day visit on Sunday, close on the heels of Pelosi's visit on August 2, the highest-level visit by US official in 25 years, which riled Beijing.
The five-member delegation is visiting the self-governing island to "reaffirm the United States' support for Taiwan" and "will encourage stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait," a spokesperson for Markey said in a statement.
Senior Colonel Shi Yi, the spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), said that his Command has organised joint combat-readiness security patrol and combat training exercises involving troops of multiple services and arms in waters and airspace around Taiwan Island on Monday.
According to Shi, this is a solemn deterrent to the United States and the Taiwan authorities, which have repeatedly played political tricks and undermined peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, a PLA press release said.
The troops' Command will take "all necessary measures to firmly safeguard China's national sovereignty and the peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits," it said.
Taiwan's Defence Ministry on Monday condemned the PLA for jeopardising the peace and security of the surrounding region with announcements of military drills.
The US delegation, in disregard of China's serious demarches and firm opposition, insisted on visiting the Taiwan region of China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here on Monday.
"It is a blatant violation of the one-China principle and the stipulations of three China-US joint communique. It also infringes on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and sends a wrong signal to the Taiwan independence separatist forces," he said.
In another fiery statement on Monday, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, said that the US Congressional delegation's visit fully revealed that the US is the true spoiler and saboteur of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
"Taiwan is part of China, and the Taiwan question does not brook any external interference," he said.
"We sternly warn the US side and the (Taiwan's ruling) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities that to contain China with Taiwan is doomed to fail, and to solicit the US for independence is bound to bring self-destruction," Wu said.