The US Department of State imposed visa restrictions against senior Chines officials over allegations of human rights violations in the northwestern province, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.
"Today, I am announcing: Visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China [...] Family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions", Pompeo said.
Pompeo also called on Beijing to end reported mass arrests and incarcerations of the Uighur population in China.
China has forcibly detained over one million Muslims in a brutal, systematic campaign to erase religion and culture in Xinjiang. China must end its draconian surveillance and repression, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease its coercion of Chinese Muslims abroad.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 8, 2019
Increased surveillance coupled with mass arrests were alleged to have followed reports of violence in 2009 between the Muslim Uighur and Han Chinese communities in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China.
In an August 2018 report, UN experts on the elimination of racial discrimination said that up to 1 million ethnic Uyghurs are thought to be detained in so-called re-education camps.
Beijing has repeatedly denied the existence of such camps, claiming that the unsubstantiated accusations are connected to what are said to be vocational colleges set up as part of counterterrorist efforts in the region.
The region went through several bloody revolts and proclaimed independence as the East Turkistan Republic following the 1911-1912 Xinhai Revolution that toppled the Qing Dynasty. In 1949, the People’s Republic of China seized control of Xinjiang, and the region has since that time reportedly been mired in a simmering conflict.