Trump administration sanctions Chinese officials over human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims

The Trump administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on three Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials over its treatment of minorities in the Xinjiang region, where Uyghurs and other minorities are suffering forced labor and other human rights abuses.

“The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement announcing sanctions from the State Department.

The sanctions are aimed at three senior officials in Xinjiang, and it makes them and their family members ineligible for entry into the U.S. Pompeo said additional visa restrictions were being placed on other officials believed to be involved or responsible for abuses against minorities.

The three officials named were Chen Quanguo, the party secretary of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China and a member of the Politburo; Zhu Hailun, party secretary of the Xinjiang political and legal committee; and Wang Mingshan, party secretary of the Xinjiang public security bureau.

Additionally, the Treasury announced it had imposed sanctions on the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and four current or former officials for their roles in “serious human rights abuses.” One of those officials is also accused of abuses in the Tibetan areas.

The Chinese government is believed to have detained more than a million ethnic Turkic minorities. They are held in internment camps and subjected to forced labor, forced abortion, sterilization and other abuse.

China initially denied the existence of the camps but has since said they are training facilities aimed at countering Muslim extremism and separatism.

The move marks the latest in a deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and the Chinese, coming on top of the spread of the coronavirus — which originated in Wuhan, China — and the Chinese incursion into freedoms in Hong Kong.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the actions were one of a number of “strong actions against human rights abuses by the Chinese Communist Party” that include export controls and the signing of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which condemned the abuses.

“We’ve taken a very strong stance on the side of human rights and against the atrocities we’ve seen,’ she said.

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