US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that China’s tit-for-tat sanctions against two Americans in the growing dispute over Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs were “unfounded” and would only shed light on the “genocide” in Xinjiang.
“Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and silence those who speak out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” Blinken said in a statement on Saturday.
He spoke after China announced sanctions against two Americans, a Canadian and a rights body, in response to sanctions imposed this week by the two countries over Beijing’s treatment of the Uighur minority.
Blinken called the sanctions of the two members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom “unfounded.”
At least one million Uighurs and people from other predominantly Muslim groups have been detained in camps in China’s Xinjiang region, according to human rights groups, which accuse authorities of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing forced labor.
The EU, Britain, Canada and the United States have sanctioned various members of Xinjiang’s political and economic hierarchy in a coordinated action on the allegations, prompting retaliation from Beijing in the form of sanctions against individuals from the EU and Britain.
“We stand in solidarity with Canada, the UK, the EU and other partners and allies around the world in calling on the People’s Republic of China to end human rights violations and abuses against predominantly Muslim Uighurs and members of other groups. ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and release arbitrarily detainees, ”Blinken said.
Blinken’s statement came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced Beijing and vowed to uphold human rights.
Trudeau called the Chinese sanctions “unacceptable actions.”
“We will continue to defend human rights around the world with our international partners,” Trudeau said on Twitter.
China sanctioned Canadian opposition lawmaker Michael Chong, vice chairman of a parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights, who this month released a report concluding that the atrocities in Xinjiang constitute crimes against humanity and genocide.
Beijing also said it will take action against the chairman and vice chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins.
People under Beijing’s sanctions are prohibited from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with the three people or having exchanges with the subcommittee.
“The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and urges the relevant parties to clearly understand the situation and correct their mistakes,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
“They must stop political manipulation in Xinjiang-related affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in any way, and refrain from going the wrong way. Otherwise your fingers will be burned. “
China’s previous sanctions on American individuals that it says have seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and interests in Xinjiang-related matters remain in effect.
Chong, who is a member of the conservative opposition party in Canada, said he would “wear (the sanctions) as a badge of honor.”
“This shows that MPs are being effective in drawing attention to the genocide of the Uighur people that is taking place in western China,” Chong said in a telephone interview.
Chong urged the Trudeau government to “officially recognize the Uighur genocide” and said the sanctions would have no practical effect because he had no plans to travel to China.