China trades sanctions with U.S. in row over Uighur Muslims

Senators Chris Smith, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. File Photo: Wikicommons, HKFP remix

BEIJING – China announced “corresponding sanctions” against the United States on Monday after Washington penalised senior Chinese officials over the treatment of minority Uighur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang.

Senators Chris Smith, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. File Photo: Wikicommons, HKFP remix
Millions of Uighurs Muslims are being held in China’s concentration camps. They are being held there indefinitely and are subjected to torture, brainwashing, rape, ethnic cleansing, abuse, and many other harmful acts according to UN reports

China’s move comes as relations between the world’s two biggest economic powerhouses have slumped over disagreements on issues including the coronavirus pandemic, trade, Huawei and a sweeping national security law imposed on Hong Kong. 

The sanctions targeted Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, U.S. Representative Chris Smith, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. 

The brutal repression and violent interference of the Chinese government in the Muslim Uyghur peoples’ right to practice their faith freely has been condemned by many countries and Human Rights organizations

Rubio and Cruz have both sponsored legislation that would punish China’s actions in Xinjiang. Smith has also been a vocal critic of China on issues ranging from Xinjiang to Hong Kong and the coronavirus.

All three are members of President Donald Trump’s Republican Party. 

China is conducting mass sterilization on Muslim minorities that could amount to genocide according to UN reports

“The U.S. actions seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations and seriously damage Sino-U.S. relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. 

“China will make further responses based on how the situation develops.” 

Hua did not elaborate.

Uighur detainees listening to a “deradicalization” presentation at a camp, in a photo posted to the Xinjiang Judicial Administration’s WeChat account, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang, 2017

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping to stamp out terrorism and extremism and give people new skills. 

Uighurs living in Turkey protest against China’s oppression of Muslim Uighurs in far-western Xinjiang province, in Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China monitors human rights and the development of the rule of law and submits an annual report to Trump and Congress. 

Washington’s measures against Chinese officials, including the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, involve freezing U.S. assets, U.S. travel bans and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.