China says the United States has interfered in its internal affairs by approving a law that would enable sanctions on Chinese officials over allegations of mistreating Uighur Muslims in the Asian country.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed legislation into law that allows for sanctions against Chinese officials over what it claimed to be the “arbitrary detention, torture and harassment” of the ethnic Muslim minority group in China’s far western region of Xinjiang.
The so-called Uighur Human Rights Act, which had earlier passed the US Congress almost unanimously, would freeze any assets the Chinese officials hold in the US and ban their entry into the country.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the bill “rudely interferes in China’s internal affairs,” and called on Washington to “immediately correct its mistakes.”
“This so-called act deliberately slanders the human rights situation in Xinjiang and maliciously attacks China’s policy in governing Xinjiang,” the ministry said, adding that Beijing would “resolutely hit back and the US will bear the burden of all subsequent consequences.”
The ethnic minority of Uighurs, which makes up about 45 percent of the population in Xinjiang, has long accused the government in Beijing of cultural, religious, and economic discrimination.
China rejects the accusation and, in turn, accuses what it describes as exiled Uighur separatist groups of planning attacks in the resource-rich Xinjiang, which is strategically located on the borders of Central Asia.
Last year, a UN human rights panel cited estimates that two million Uighurs and Muslim minorities had been forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the autonomous region, which is home to about 10 million Uighurs.
Beijing has denied that accusation as well as other reports that Uighurs are unfairly marginalized and says it is addressing underdevelopment and lack of jobs in heavily Uighur areas such as Xinjiang.