The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Saturday the imposition of sanctions on U.S. and Canadian agencies in response to “rumors and misinformation” about alleged human rights violations against people in the Xinjiang region of western China, which last week was the subject of a coordinated sanctions package between the U.S., Canada, the EU and the United Kingdom.
A ministry spokesman explained that Beijing’s decision is in response to sanctions imposed last week by Washington and Ottawa against specific individuals.
“In response, China has decided to sanction U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Gayle Manchin, USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins, Canadian MP Michael Chong and the Canadian House of Commons Foreign Affairs and International Development subcommittee,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by Hong Kong television RTHK.
These three individuals will not be allowed to enter China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and the sub-committee will not be allowed to “do business” or “conduct exchanges” with citizens of China.
The spokesman also stressed that the U.S. sanctions over the situation in Xinjiang are “unworkable” and warned the “parties involved” not to “manipulate politically on issues related to Xinjiang” because they “interfere in Chinese internal affairs” and “could get their fingers burned”.
On Monday, the EU, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom announced sanctions against those responsible for the repression of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province, where Beijing authorities have surveillance, detention and indoctrination programs for this group.
China responded immediately to the first measures against Chinese leaders by the EU since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre with sanctions against ten politicians and four EU entities. Those sanctioned include five MEPs, three national MPs and two academics.
Beijing has also imposed sanctions on nine individuals and four entities in the United Kingdom, to which sanctions against U.S. and Canadian officials and entities will now be added.
In recent days tensions have increased between the Western bloc and the Asian giant through the exchange of sanctions and criticism between both parties for the alleged violation of human rights in the Xinjiang region.
The United States has repeatedly called China’s actions against the Uighurs, of Turkish origin and Muslim religion, and other minority groups residing in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, in northwest China, “genocide”.
China has already rejected accusations of repression or genocide against the Uyghurs. In particular, it has denied the existence of detention camps and assures that these are facilities for vocational training and to eradicate Islamic extremism and separatism.