US condemns China’s sanctions in dispute over Uighurs

BEIJING / OTTAWA (Reuters) – The United States on Saturday condemned China’s sanctions against two US religious rights officials and a Canadian lawmaker in a dispute over Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims and other minorities.

China’s measures “only contribute to growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. We stand in solidarity with Canada, the UK, the EU and other partners and allies around the world in calling on (China) to end human rights violations and abuses, ”said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a statement.

The Beijing sanctions followed those imposed by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada earlier this week for what they say are violations of the rights of Uighur Muslims and other Turkish minorities in the western Chinese region. from Xinjiang.

Activists and UN rights experts say at least one million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. Activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor and sterilization.

China has repeatedly denied all allegations of abuse, saying its camps offer vocational training and are necessary to fight extremism.

Blinken’s statement came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced Beijing and vowed to uphold human rights.

China sanctioned Canadian opposition lawmaker Michael Chong, vice chairman of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations and International Development and its Subcommittee on International Human Rights, who this month presented a report concluding that the atrocities in Xinjiang constitute crimes against them. 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 opposition Conservative Party in Canada, said he would “use (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.

Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beihing and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; additional reporting from Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Cynthia Osterman


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