John Ruwitch

Before Justinian Huang left Shanghai for some beach time in Malaysia last winter, he took his dog Swagger to stay with a friend.

"I dropped him off. I kissed him goodbye. I was like, 'I'm going to see you in six days,' " Huang recounts. "That was Jan. 23 of this year."

That week the coronavirus spread with alarming speed in China. So Huang decided to wait it out in Malaysia a few extra days. Then he flew to Taiwan, where he has family, and finally home to the United States.

The Trump administration on Thursday put visa and asset sanctions on several Chinese officials — including Politburo member Chen Quanguo — for what it says has been their role in "gross violations of human rights" in China's far western region of Xinjiang.

The move comes at a time when U.S.-China relations are at their worst in decades and is likely to anger Beijing, potentially leading to similar sanctions from China on American officials.

Attempts to dissuade China's ruling Communist Party from asserting more authority over Hong Kong didn't work. Now that China is imposing a new national security law on the territory, world powers are looking to punish Beijing.

The law hands the central government almost unchecked legal power in the former British colony, which was promised a "high degree of autonomy" for 50 years when it was returned to China in 1997. Drafted secretly and enacted swiftly on Tuesday, it is considered by many analysts to be even harsher than expected.

The Trump administration on Monday labeled four more Chinese news organizations as "foreign missions," expanding its restrictions on what it calls Chinese propaganda outlets in a move that's likely to anger Beijing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Hawaii on Wednesday, in what Chinese state media said was a constructive exchange of views.

The meeting comes at a time of fast-deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing over a range of issues, including human rights, Hong Kong and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neither the U.S. nor China publicly announced the meeting in advance and it was not immediately clear which side had proposed it, highlighting the tension and mistrust that now permeate ties between the world's no. 1 and no. 2 economies.

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