US Sanctions Chinese Officials 'Involved in Repressive Acts' in Xinjiang Region

© REUTERS / Kim Hong-JiПоднятие флага Китая на церемонии закрытия XXIV зимних Олимпийских игр в Пекине
Поднятие флага Китая на церемонии закрытия XXIV зимних Олимпийских игр в Пекине - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.03.2022
Washington has pressured Beijing to speak out against Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, threatening to sanction China if the latter is found to be aiding its northern neighbor. So far, Beijing has only expressed support for ongoing talks between diplomats from Kiev and Moscow.
The Biden administration unveiled new sanctions against Chinese officials on Monday, restricting the visas of those the White House claims are "involved in repressive acts against members of ethnic and religious minority groups and religious and spiritual practitioners" in China's western Xinjiang Autonomous Region "and outside of China's borders, including within the United States."
"The United States rejects efforts by PRC [People's Republic of China] officials to harass, intimidate, surveil, and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and US citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations. We are committed to defending human rights around the world and will continue to use all diplomatic and economic measures to promote accountability," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
The minister did not elaborate on the precise nature of the allegations regarding the targeting of Uyghurs in the United States. However, since the Taliban* took over from the US-backed Afghan government in August 2021, Beijing has pressured Kabul to end its support for the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a terrorist group responsible for numerous attacks in China. Until 2020, the US also considered the ETIM a terrorist group, noting its ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda**, but removed it from the list after claiming it no longer existed.
Other Uyghur separatist groups, including the World Uyghur Congress and Uyghur Human Rights Project, have enjoyed extensive largesse from US groups like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a group created in the 1980s to serve as a front for the CIA so as to disguise the flow of funds to groups useful to US foreign policy, as past heads of the NED have admitted.

Last year, the US levied accusations of genocide against China, and consistently refers to the actions of the Chinese government against the Uyghur population as genocidal, including by carrying out a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022.

Beijing denies that a genocide is taking place in Xinjiang. The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also denies accusations that it forcibly sterilizes Uyghur women or restricts Uyghur culture and the practice of Islam, suggesting instead that its rehabilitation and training programs for former extremists are voluntary and in line with guidelines contained within the United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. The CCP additionally asserts that the Uyghur population has been voluntarily enrolled in vocational training centers a part of a deradicalization program aimed at eliminating support for groups like the ETIM.
The new sanctions come as the Biden administration is trying to woo Beijing into breaking its alignment with Moscow, after the Kremlin initiated its special military operation Ukraine last month.

“Had China known about the imminent crisis, we would have tried our best to prevent it,” Qin Gang, China's ambassador to the United States, offered in a Washington Post op-ed last week. Speaking separately to CBS' Face the Nation, he also noted that "normal trade, economic, financial, energy cooperations with Russia" would continue as normal, per international law.

US President Joe Biden told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call on Friday that China would face sanctions if it sent military aid to Russia during the Ukraine special military operation.
*The Taliban - a group under United Nations sanction for terrorist activities
**Al-Qaeda - a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries
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