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China announces retaliatory sanctions against US officials for Xinjiang measures

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying revealed the new sanctions at a press conference on Monday, urging the United States to “stop meddling in China’s international affairs.”

Among U.S. officials nominated by Hua are Senators Rubio and Cruz, both former presidential candidates, U.S. Representative Chris Smith, Ambassador to Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

“I must point out that Xinjiang affairs are China’s internal affairs and the United States has no right to interfere,” Hua said.

“We urge the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision and stop meddling in China̵

7;s internal affairs or undermine China’s interests. And we will make further responses based on the evolution of the situation.”

Hua said the sanctions would come into effect on Monday but gave no further details about the measures or what they might mean.

Washington’s sanctions against Chinese officials include freezing all US assets and a block that prevents US citizens from doing business with them. Anyone sanctioned by the United States also faces visa restrictions and prevents them and their families from entering the United States.

China’s western Xinjiang region is culturally and ethnically distinct from much of the rest of the country, with a large Turkish minority population, and has had a difficult relationship with the Beijing government for several years.

The US State Department estimates that since 2015 as many as two million Muslim majority Uighurs and other Turkish minorities have been imprisoned in huge training camps in Xinjiang, as part of a region-wide crackdown of Beijing.

There have also been reports of historic Uyghur cemeteries being demolished, Uighur families forced to welcome Communist Party officials and mass surveillance of communities across Xinjiang.
On Thursday, the US government announced Chen Quanguo, the head of the Xinjiang Communist Party and a number of other local party mediators would be sanctioned along with the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.

“The United States will not be free when it (the Chinese Communist Party) implements human rights violations targeting Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang,” State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in a statement Thursday.

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