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US imposes sanctions on China over alleged rights abuses, illegal fishing

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)
This picture shows a view of the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC, August 6, 2018. (File photo by Reuters)

The United States has imposed sanctions on China accusing it of human rights abuses in Tibet and over reports of fishing that it said caused damage to the marine ecosystem.

The US Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions against two senior Chinese officials in Tibet for human rights abuses as well as the owner and founder of two China-based firms allegedly involved in illegal fishing activities in the Pacific Ocean.

Washington has accused Wu Yingjie, who was China's boss in Tibet from 2016 to 2021, and Zhang Hongbo, China's police chief in the Himalayan region reportedly since 2018, of abusing and controlling Tibetans in the north of the country.

Dalian Ocean's chairman Li Zhenyu and Pingtan Marine's founder Xinrong Zhuo, as well as other entities linked to the pair, have been accused by the US Treasury Department of doing damage to the marine ecosystems by exhausting fishing stocks, and trying to project its maritime reach by establishing a network of ports outside China.

In addition, Washington has targeted China-flagged fishing vessels connected to the sanctioned entities.

China, in turn, has accused Washington of turning “a blind eye to its own violations”. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Friday that Washington was “interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights”.

She said Beijing would “resolutely take effective measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests”.

“The US is not qualified to impose sanctions on other countries at its will, and is not qualified to play the role of the world police,” she pointed out.

The latest round of US sanctions against China were imposed in contradiction to reports of a relative easing of tensions between Washington and Beijing after US Presidents Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met last month in Bali and agreed to step up dialogue to resolve the disputes between the countries over a range of issues.

In this regard, a Chinese political commentator had predicted that due to the ongoing competition between the two major powers, bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing will be heading towards “further deterioration”.

Yilun Zhang, Research Associate at the Institute for China-America Studies based in Washington, DC, said Washington-Beijing rivalry has occupied the minds of the American policymakers. He insisted that it was difficult to reverse the US policymakers' mindsets in the foreseeable future.

The two sides' efforts for trade and technology decoupling, as well as the repeatedly reemphasized security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region, has laid down the fundamental framework for their competition, he noted.

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