BEIJING/OTTAWA: The United States on Saturday condemned China’s sanctions against two American religious-rights officials and a Canadian lawmaker in a dispute over Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims and other minorities.
China’s moves “only contribute to the 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 the (China) to end the human rights violations and abuses,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
Beijing’s sanctions followed those imposed by the United States, European Union, Britain and Canada earlier this week for what they say are violations of the rights of Uighur Muslims and other Turkic minorities in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Activists and UN rights experts say at least a million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations.
China has repeatedly denied all accusations of abuse and says its camps offer vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
Blinken’s statement came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced Beijing and vowed to defend human rights.
China sanctioned Canadian opposition lawmaker Michael Chong, vice-chair of parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and its Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which this month presented a report concluding that atrocities in Xinjiang constitute crimes against humanity and genocide.
Beijing also said it will take measures against the chair and vice-chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins.
The individuals under Beijing’s sanctions are banned from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, and Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with the three individuals or having any 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 redress their mistakes,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.
“They must stop political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in any form and refrain from going farther down the wrong path. Otherwise, they will get their fingers burnt.”
China’s previous sanctions on US individuals who it says have seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and interests on Xinjiang-related issues remain in effect.
Chong, who is a member of the opposition Conservative Party in Canada, said he would “wear (the sanctions) as a badge of honour”.
“This demonstrates that parliamentarians 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.