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China slams US sanctions over Uighur Muslims

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying addresses a press conference.

Beijing has lashed out at US lawmakers for calling on the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Chinese officials over what they call internment of a Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, on Thursday rebuked 17 members of the US Congress over their call for boycotting seven Chinese officials and two surveillance equipment manufacturers for their roles in “rounding up Muslims in internment camps in the Xinjiang region.”

“The US has no right to criticize China on this issue,” the Chinese spokeswoman said, adding that the US lawmakers must “focus on their job … instead of trying to poke their nose in the business of other countries.”

She also pointed to the US’ own racial discrimination issues, and said the country must stop trying to be “the judge of human rights and even threatening to impose unreasonable sanctions on other countries.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the letter by the 17 members of the US Congress had been sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, calling for travel and financial sanctions on the senior Chinese officials involved in the “detentions”.

The Chinese government has frequently denied allegations that the Muslim Uighur minority living in the country’s far-west are being held in such internment camps.

However, experts believe the Chinese government’s ill treatment of Uighurs has exacerbated outbreaks of vicious ethnic violence in the Xinjiang region. Clashes between government forces and locals in the region have left hundreds killed in recent years.

Gay McDougall, vice chairwoman of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said earlier this month she had received credible reports that over one million ethnic Uighurs in China were held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no rights zone.”

China has accused what it describes as exiled Uighur separatist groups of planning attacks in the resource-rich region and Uighurs, in turn, claim they face cultural and religious repression and discrimination there.

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