China Vows to Retaliate Against US Sanctions on Xinjiang


President Donald Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

China said on Friday that it will retaliate against US officials and institutions after Washington imposed sanctions on three local officials of the ruling Communist Party for human rights abuses in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

China “will definitely fight” against actions that it considers to interfere with its internal affairs and those that threaten its sovereignty, security and development interests, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in a daily briefing.

Zhao said China “strongly opposes and condemns” the Trump administration’s decision to ban all three officials from entering the United States, the latest in a series of measures taken against China as relations deteriorate due to the coronavirus pandemic. , human rights, Hong Kong and trade.

“In response to the incorrect practice of the United States, China decided to take reciprocal action against the relevant United States institutions and individuals that performed poorly in matters related to Xinjiang,” said Zhao.

Thursday’s announcement by the US administration comes a day after it imposed visa bans on Chinese officials held responsible for banning foreigners’ access to Tibet. Thursday’s move, however, reaches a higher level of leadership, targeting Chen Quanguo, a ranking leader of Xinjiang and a member of the party’s Politburo, along with regional security officials Zhu Hailun and Wang Mingshan.

They and their immediate family are prohibited from entering the United States. The Associated Press described Zhu as part of a bundle of stories last year.

The sanctions were announced a week after an AP investigation showed forced population control of the Uighurs and other largely Muslim minorities, one of the reasons cited by the State Department for the sanctions.

“The United States will not stand idly by as the Chinese Communist Party commits human rights abuses against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their Muslim culture and faith, “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

China has detained approximately 1 million or more members of its Muslim minority ethnic groups in internment camps, described by the government as vocational training facilities aimed at countering Muslim radicalism and separatist tendencies. He says those facilities have since been closed, a claim impossible to deny due to restrictions on visits and reporting on the region.

Camp veterans and family members say detainees are forced, often with the threat of violence, to denounce their religion, culture and language and swear allegiance to party leader and head of state Xi Jinping.

China says that vast and resource-rich Xinjiang has long been its territory, and claims it is bringing stability and prosperity to the region. Many Uighurs and other members of the region’s native population say they are denied economic options in favor of migrants from other parts of China and that the party wants to eliminate their separate cultures.

In October 2019, the United States imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials “believed to be responsible or complicit in” the detention of Muslims in Xinjiang. It also blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese companies and agencies linked to abuses in the region, including surveillance technology makers and the Xinjiang public security bureau, effectively blocking the purchase of American products.

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