US sanctions Chinese officials, paramilitary agency over Uighur abuses

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions on Friday against Chinese officials and a government entity over Uighur human rights abuses he called the “stain of the century.”

The latest sanctions come amid spiraling relations between the U.S. and China, with the Trump administration stepping up actions against Beijing on multiple fronts in an attempt at changing the behavior of the Chinese Communist Party. 

The sanctions target the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) and two of its officials, Pompeo said in a statement. 

The XPCC, a paramilitary organization that operates under the control of Beijing, has been criticized as being a tool of repression against minority Uighurs in the Xinjiang region. 

The sanctions on the XPCC follow an earlier designation of the organization’s chief operating officer, First Political Commissar Chen Quanguo, over his alleged connection to human rights abuses. 

“Following his arrival in the region, Chen Quanguo began implementing a comprehensive surveillance, detention, and indoctrination program in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The XPCC has been directly involved in implementing these measures.”

Two other officials — Sun Jinlong, former party secretary of the XPCC, and Peng Jiarui, deputy party secretary and commander of the XPCC — were also placed on the sanctions list, blocking any travel to America and freezing any of their assets in the U.S.

U.S. individuals are prohibited from transacting with sanctioned persons and entities. 

The sanctions follow an earlier notice by the State Department warning American companies to ensure their supply chains from China are not engaged in violating human rights, including forced labor, that could open them up to sanctions. 

Since October, the Commerce Department has designated dozens of companies operating in the Xinjiang region as implicated in human rights abuses and engaging in a “repression campaign.”

Human rights groups accuse the Chinese government of instituting a coordinated campaign of interning up to 1 million Uighurs in detention facilities and other gross violations of human rights since 2017.

The State Department says these violations include “intrusive surveillance, forced labor, forced population control, involuntary collection of biometric data, and genetic analyses targeted at these groups.”

Beijing says that the forced detentions are part of an anti-terrorist and reeducation campaign and denies human rights abuses are taking place. 

The Associated Press reported last month that the Chinese government has been engaged in what amounts to “demographic genocide” against the Muslim minority group, including mandated abortions and sterilizations in some cases.

Tags China China human rights abuses Mike Pompeo Uighur Uighurs Uyghur genocide Uyghurs
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