China says it will 'definitely fight back' after US imposes sanctions over human rights abuses

China says it will 'definitely fight back' after US imposes sanctions over human rights abuses
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China plans to retaliate against U.S. officials for imposing sanctions over human rights abuses against China's minority Uighur population, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that the administration would sanction three Chinese officials from entering the U.S. for the abuses, "which reportedly include mass arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse," according to a release from the Treasury Department.

According to the AP, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing Friday that China will “definitely fight back” against actions it considers interference in its internal affairs and threatening to its sovereignty, security and development interests. 

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“In response to the wrong practice of the U.S., China decided to take reciprocal measures against the relevant U.S. institutions and individuals who performed badly on the Xinjiang-related issues,” Zhao said.

The U.S. sanctions on the Chinese officials come after the AP reported last month that the Chinese government has acted in recent years to slash birth rates among Uighurs through forced birth control, abortions and sterilization.

For months, Trump resisted pressure from lawmakers to act on the alleged abuses, though last month he signed legislation passed by Congress in May that requires him to identify and sanction Chinese officials who played a role in the human rights abuses against the Uighurs.

The move toward sanctions comes amid declining relations between the U.S. and China over the coronavirus pandemic, trade and Hong Kong.