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Foreign ministry: US uses human rights to concoct malicious lies against China, interfere in Beijing’s affairs

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 spokesman Wang Wenbin attends a news conference in Beijing, China, on March 2, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

China has announced the imposition of sanctions against an unspecified number of American officials who "concocted lies" about human rights violations in the country’s far-western region of Xinjiang.

Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement on Thursday that the retaliatory measure came after the US administration announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials over accusations of repressing religious and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Wang said Beijing would "impose reciprocal visa restrictions on US officials," and that the sanctions would apply to those "who concocted lies on human rights issues involving China, promoted and implemented sanctions on China, and harmed China's rights and interests.”

The Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman stressed, "The US uses the pretext of so-called human rights issues to concoct malicious lies, and uses these as a reason to interfere in China's internal affairs, smear China's image and suppress Chinese officials."

Wang did not disclose the names of the officials to be sanctioned or the extent of the visa restrictions, but said the move was in line with China's anti-foreign sanctions law implemented last year.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China last week to end what he claimed to be the “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity" in Xinjiang as Washington announced sanctions on unnamed Chinese officials.

Blinken said the US sanctions targeted Chinese officials over their alleged complicity in policies that repressed minorities, dissidents, human rights activists and journalists.

The mostly Muslim-Turkic ethnic group of Uighurs, which makes up about 45 percent of the population in Xinjiang region, has long accused China of cultural, religious, and economic discrimination. The US, in particular, spearheads such allegations in the West.

In 2020, a UN human rights panel alleged that up to two million Uighurs had been forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the autonomous region.

China rejects claims of mistreating the Uighurs, saying it has been taking anti-terrorism measures against separatists in the region who are seeking to join Takfiri outfits such as al-Qaeda.

Beijing describes the camps in Xinjiang as “vocational education and employment training centers,” which are part of its efforts to tackle underdevelopment and a lack of employment in the area.

Relations between the US and China have been marked by heightened tensions in recent years, with clashes on issues like trade, pandemic, and regional interference.


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