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AFP
July 11, 2020

China, US in new spat over Uighur crackdown

World

AFP
July 11, 2020

BEIJING: China said Friday it will impose tit-for-tat measures after the United States slapped sanctions on Chinese officials for their involvement in a crackdown on Muslim minorities, raising tensions between the superpowers.

The two countries have traded barbs and sanctions on a slew of issues since President Donald Trump took office, from trade to more recent spats over the coronavirus pandemic, a security law in Hong Kong, and Chinese policies in the far west regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. The latest Chinese response followed a US announcement of visa bans and an assets freeze on three officials, including Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang and architect of Beijing´s hardline policies against restive minorities. “The US actions seriously interfere in China´s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations, and seriously damage China-US relations,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a briefing. “China has decided to impose reciprocal measures against the relevant US institutions and individuals who behave badly on Xinjiang-related issues,” Zhao said, without providing details about the sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the United States was acting against “horrific and systematic abuses” in Xinjiang including forced labour, mass detention and involuntary population control.

The back-and-forth over Xinjiang comes just days after the two countries imposed visa restrictions on each other over their disagreement on Tibet. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday blamed the rising tensions on “McCarthy-style paranoia” in the United States. Witnesses and human rights groups say that China has rounded up more than one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang in a vast brainwashing campaign aimed at forcibly homogenising minorities into the country´s Han majority.