China announces tit-for-tat sanctions against US religious rights officials

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USCIRF chair Nadine Maenza, vice chairman Nury Turkel, commissioners Anurima Bhargava and James W. Carr.

(TibetanReview.net, Dec22’21) – In a face-saving move with only a symbolic tit-for-tat value, China on Dec 21 announced sanctions on four members of the US government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom in retaliation for penalties imposed earlier this month on Chinese officials over complaints of abuses in the Xinjiang region.

The chairwoman and three members of the US panel are barred from visiting mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, and any assets they have in the country will be frozen, the AP Dec 21 cited China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian as saying.

The report said Zhao identified those targeted as chairwoman Nadine Maenza, deputy chairman Nury Turkel and members Anurima Bhargava and James Carr. It noted that Zhao gave no indication whether any of them had assets in China.

The report noted that the Chinese announcement came after it threatened to retaliate against the US Treasury’s announcement of sanctions Dec 10 on two officials accused of involvement in repression of Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Beijing is accused of mass detentions, forced abortions and other abuses that border on genocide.

The US Treasury’s sanctions targeted Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang government from 2018 until early this year, and Erken Tuniyaz, who holds the position now and previously was deputy chairman.

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