U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday signed a law supporting the human rights and religious freedoms of Tibetan people, the latest in a series of moves aimed at pressuring China over its treatment of ethnic minorities.

The enactment of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020, which has been included in a government spending bill, paves the way for sanctions against Chinese officials accused of interfering in the succession of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech in Valdosta, Georgia, on Dec. 5, 2020, during a rally which he attended for the first time since the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Beijing criticized the move, saying that the issue concerning the Chinese autonomous region is purely its "internal affairs."

Under the law, the United States will seek to hold accountable senior Chinese officials who directly interfere in the process of selecting the successor to the Dalai Lama, including by imposing sanctions and prohibiting their entry into the United States.

It also urges the U.S. government to deny authorization of any additional Chinese consulates until a U.S. consulate is permitted to be established in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

The opening of a diplomatic outpost in Tibet is intended to enable the United States to monitor political, economic and cultural developments, according to the law.

The 14th Dalai Lama, 85, who is a Nobel Peace laureate, lives in exile in the northern Indian city of Dharamsala. China views him as a separatist seeking Tibetan independence.

The United States has also been adding to its trade blacklist Chinese companies allegedly implicated in Beijing's human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the far-western Xinjiang region.