BEIJING (AP) – China on Monday banned US Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Representative Chris Smith and Religious Liberty Ambassador Sam Brownback for their criticism of the ruling Communist Party’s policies towards minorities and religious people. .

The US actions have « seriously damaged relations between China and the United States, » Hua Chunying, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Monday, saying that Beijing is determined to defend its national sovereignty against what it perceives as meddling in its internal affairs.

« China will continue to respond depending on how the situation develops, » Hua said.

There was no indication that any of the four sanctioned Americans had plans to travel to China.