CHINA SANCTIONS US, CANADA IN TIT-FOR-TAT MOVE

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BEIJING, MAR 27 – In a tit-for-tat move, China announced sanctions on US and Canadian officials over the hot button issue of alleged human rights abuse of the Uyghur minority by Beijing.

“The US and Canada imposed unilateral sanctions on relevant individuals and entities in Xinjiang on March 22 based on rumors and disinformation,” said a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday.

“In response, the Chinese side decides to sanction Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom [USCIRF] Gayle Manchin, Vice Chair of the USCIRF Tony Perkins, Member of Parliament of Canada Michael Chong, and the sub-committee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the House of Commons of Canada,” the statement added.

China has been accused by western capitals and rights groups over alleged human rights violations of Uyghurs who live the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region.

The US and its allies have sanctioned many Chinese officials over alleged abuses of Uyghurs. Earlier this week, the US blacklisted two Chinese government officials: Wang Junzheng and Chen Mingguo.

The sanctions were being conducted in tandem with the EU, UK and Canada, which imposed their own sanctions on the designated individuals and other officials, the US Treasury Department said last Monday.

A 2018 Human Rights Watch report detailed a Chinese government campaign of “mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination, and mass surveillance of Xinjiang’s Muslims.”

China, however, has repeatedly denied allegations that it is operating detention camps in its northwestern autonomous region, claiming instead that they are “re-educating” Uyghurs.

Beijing further said in Saturday’s statement that “political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues must stop” urging “non-interference in China’s internal affairs in any form and refrain from going further down the wrong path.”

“Otherwise, they will get their fingers burnt.”

The sanctions bar individuals from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.

“Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with the relevant individuals and having exchanges with the relevant entity,” the Foreign Ministry said.

It added that previous sanctions on American individuals “who seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and interests on Xinjiang-related issues remain effective.”

“The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and urges the relevant parties to clearly understand the situation and redress their mistakes,” the statement said.