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China sanctions two Americans in tit-for-tat move over its rights record in Tibet

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec23’22) – China has on Dec 23 come up with two American names to announce admittedly tit-for-tat sanctions on them, with immediate effect, over the issue of human rights situation in occupied Tibet. China avoids any discussion of its human rights record, especially in the so-called ethnic minority regions, as a no-go area, calling any such action an interference in its internal affairs.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday announced sanctions on Mr Yu Maochun, known as Miles Yu in the US, and Mr Todd Stein as countermeasures to the illegal US sanctions of two Chinese officials on so-called human rights issues related to China’s Xizang region, said China’s official globaltimes.cn Dec 23.

The report recalled that on Dec 9, the US sanctioned two Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xizang (the Sinicized name for Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR). China at that time called the sanctions illegal and said it seriously harmed China-US relations.

The Chinese announcement gave no specific accusations against Stein and Yu, noted the
AP Dec 23.

The globaltimes.cn report only said Yu had reportedly played an important role in Washington’s new Cold War against China.

And it added that Todd Stein, deputy staff director of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, had been actively pushing bills targeting what it called China’s Xizang region. It also described Todd as the director of “Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet” (a Tibet advocacy group in Washington, DC), although this role dated back to the period of 2008-2014.

The report said China will freeze all Chinese assets of both Yu and Stein, and ban any organization or individual within China from engaging with them. Both men and their immediate family members are also banned from entering China, the Foreign Ministry statement was cited as saying.

The order, signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, took effect immediately.

* * *

China-born Yu served as key China adviser under former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noted the AP report. He helped reshape US policy on China during the Trump administration, and is now a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, as well as senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and professor at the US Naval Academy, noted the scmp.com Dec 23.

Stein has been deputy staff director at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China since 2021 and previously served as senior advisor to Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewall, including serving as her lead staffer on Tibetan issues.

Earlier, coinciding with the International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day on Dec 9 and 10 respectively, the US on Dec 9 froze the US assets of Wu Yingjie, the top party official in TAR from 2016 to 2021, and those of Zhang Hongbo, TAR’s police chief since 2018.

“Our actions further aim to disrupt and deter the People’s Republic of China’s arbitrary detention and physical abuse of members of religious minority groups in the Tibetan Autonomous Region,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in announcing the sanctions.

An accompanying Treasury Department notice said Wu had been responsible for “stability policies” in Tibet whose implementation involved “serious human rights abuse, including extrajudicial killings, physical abuse, arbitrary arrests, and mass detentions.”

It said that during Zhang’s tenure, police have been engaged in serious human rights abuses, including “torture, physical abuse, and killings of prisoners, which included those arrested on religious and political grounds.”

* * *

China in recent years has passed legislation mandating tit-for-tat sanctions against foreign individuals from the US, the EU and other countries over perceived slights against its national interests. Washington and others have compiled a long list of Chinese officials barred from visiting or engaging in transactions with their financial institutions ranging from the leader of the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong to local officials accused of human rights abuses.

China claims Tibet has been part of its territory since ancient times while Tibetans assert it was functionally independent for most of that time.

Whatever may be the case, communist China invaded Tibet in 1950 and has ruled the Himalayan region with an iron fist ever since, imposing ever stricter surveillance and travel restrictions, including since the last uprising against Beijing’s rule in 2008. Lengthy prison sentences in dire conditions are imposed for acts of defiance, including defending the region’s unique language and Buddhist culture from attempts at assimilation, noted the AP report.

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