U.S. And Allies Impose Sanctions On Officials In China Over Human Rights Offenses In Xinjiang
Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state nominee for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 2021. Biden's pick to lead the State Department promised to revitalize alliances and approach the world with humility, offering a contrast with current outgoing secretary of state. Photographer: Alex Edelman/AFP/Bloomberg
Alex Edelman/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Monday, the United States, alongside the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada announced sanctions against officials in China over human rights offenses committed against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

In a statement, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the decision to enforce sanctions against two people who are connected with human rights abuses against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.

The statement reads, in part, “Amid growing international condemnation, the [People’s Republic of China] continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. The United States reiterates its calls on the PRC to bring an end to the repression of Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang, including by releasing all those arbitrarily held in internment camps and detention facilities.”

The targeted persons of the sanctions are Wang Junzheng, the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) and Chen Mingguo, Director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB). Blinken confirmed that the sanctions are being imposed “in response to serious human rights abuse against members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

The United States sanctioned the two people under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program in accordance with Executive Order 13818.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury explained its sanctions in a statement, saying, “The XPCC is a paramilitary organization in the [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] that is subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and was designated on July 31, 2020 for its connection to serious human rights abuse. The XPCC enhances internal control over the region by advancing China’s vision of economic development in XUAR that emphasizes subordination to central planning and resource extraction.”

The Treasury notes that the XPSB has carried out repressive actions against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the area since at least 2016. These actions include “mass detentions and surveillance,” adding that people who are targeted by the surveillance methods “are often detained and reportedly subjected to various methods of torture and ‘political reeducation.'”

Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury, Andrea M. Gacki, said, “Chinese authorities will continue to face consequences as long as atrocities occur in Xinjiang … Treasury is committed to promoting accountability for the Chinese government’s human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention and torture, against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.”

Secretary Blinken is set to meet with European leaders this week. In his statement, he noted that the U.S. has taken the action to impose sanctions with “partners in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union. As part of their actions today, our partners also sanctioned human rights abusers in connection with the atrocities occurring in Xinjiang and other countries.”

The statement concluded, “The United States applauds the EU’s broader human rights sanctions action today. We welcome the EU’s use of this powerful tool to promote accountability for human rights abuse on a global scale. A united transatlantic response sends a strong signal to those who violate or abuse international human rights, and we will take further actions in coordination with likeminded partners. We will continue to stand with our allies around the world in calling for an immediate end to the PRC’s crimes and for justice for the many victims.”

According to Politico, the allies’ combined effort included the European Union approving sanctions of four Chinese officials on Monday morning. The United Kingdom also imposed sanctions on four people and one entity, including the two people sanctioned by the United States. Canada also announced that it is imposing sanctions on the same four people and one entity.

China responded to the actions by the European Union by adding sanctions of their own to 10 European persons and four institutions that they claim have hurt China’s interests and “maliciously spread lies and disinformation,” as reported by The Associated Press.

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