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China to avoid escalating tension with US over sanctioning of its Tibet officials

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec11’22) – China is expected to be restrained in its response to fresh US sanctions announced against two senior Chinese officials over serious human rights abuses in occupied Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and is not expected to announce reciprocal sanctions, as it tries to avoid worsening ties with Washington, reported the scmp.com Dec 10, citing diplomatic observers.

On Dec 9, Washington 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. It also blocked transactions between them and “US persons” and people in the US who were not authorised by the US Treasury to do so.

The US announcement came just three weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping held three hours of talks with his US counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali.

Lu Xiang, an expert on US-China relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has said Washington had returned to human rights issues in Tibet to show that it had not forgotten the region, given the fact that in recent years, its human rights focus has been more on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

“The US has been issuing sanctions against Chinese officials for a long time, and Beijing knows it’s part of the US’ strategy towards China of maintaining adversarial relations while engaging with you at the same time,” Lu has said.

The report noted that Beijing was yet to respond to the sanctions. It cited China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning as saying on Dec 9 in response to a Wall Street Journal report that China opposed US sanctions on principle and “interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights”.

Likewise, Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, has said there was no major change in US policy towards China, so it was not surprising to see US sanctions on Chinese officials for the alleged human rights issues.

Shi has said the US sanctions would worsen China-US relations slightly, but China was unlikely to take actions that could lead to a further serious deterioration in ties.

Wang Yiwei, also an international relations professor at Renmin University, has said Beijing’s response to the sanctions could not worsen ties given they were already at a low point.

Meanwhile, following up on the Biden-Xi meeting in Bali, a high-level delegation from the US will now visit Beijing, announced the US State Department on Dec 10.

Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Laura Rosenberger, senior director for China and Taiwan at the National Security Council, will visit China, South Korea, and Japan from Dec 11 through 14, according to a statement from the State Department.

The delegation will prepare the ground for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China early next year.

China’s slowing economy over its stringent coronavirus action plan Zero-Covid, along with the perception that it has enraged many of its neighbours, indicated that Beijing was looking for more stable relations with Washington in the “short term,” wionnews.com Dec 11 quoted White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell as suggesting.

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