Washington condemns China's 'baseless sanctions' against US officials over Xinjiang

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Mar 28, 2021, 07:42 AM(IST)

The United States and Japan look to sign two pacts soon, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in China's Xinjiang region, according to rights groups, who accuse authorities of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

The United States has warned China that its tit-for-tat sanctions against two Americans in the growing dispute over Beijing's treatment of Uyghurs were "baseless" and would only shine a harsh spotlight on the "genocide" in Xinjiang.

"Beijing's attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Saturday.

He spoke out after China announced sanctions against two Americans, a Canadian and a rights advocacy body, in response to sanctions imposed this week by the two countries over Beijing's treatment of the Uyghur minority.

Blinken called these sanctions "baseless."

At least one million Uyghurs and people from other mostly Muslim groups have been held in camps in China's Xinjiang region, according to rights groups, who accuse authorities of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

The European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States, to this end, have sanctioned several members of Xinjiang's political and economic hierarchy in coordinated action over the allegations, prompting retaliation from Beijing in the form of sanctions on individuals from the EU and Britain.

Also read | US accuses China of 'state-led' social media campaign against companies that boycotted Xinjiang

"We stand in solidarity with Canada, the UK, the EU, and other partners and allies around the world in calling on the PRC to end the human rights violations and abuses against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang and to release those arbitrarily detained," Blinken said.

Earlier on Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said these sanctions were unacceptable and vowed to continue to defend human rights.

"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-chair of parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE), as well as the FAAE's Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which has eight members and this month presented a report concluding that atrocities had been committed in Xinjiang that constitute crimes against humanity and genocide.

Beijing also said it will take measures against the chair and vice-chair of the US government's advisory Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"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 ministry said.

Also read | US hits two Chinese officials with sanctions over Uighur abuses

"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."

The individuals are banned from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, the ministry said, and Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with the three individuals or having any exchanges with the subcommittee.

China has repeatedly denied all accusations of abuse and says its camps offer vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

Beijing's previous sanctions on US individuals whom it says have seriously undermined China's sovereignty and interests on Xinjiang-related issues remain in effect.

(with inputs)

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