China’s former Tibet boss likely to face US sanctions for Xinjiang atrocities

Tibet’s former Chinese boss Chen Quanguo. (Photo courtesy: SCMP)
Tibet’s former Chinese boss Chen Quanguo. (Photo courtesy: SCMP)

(, Apr20, 2018) – Tibet’s former Chinese boss Chen Quanguo and his current underlings face the prospect of being sanctioned by the United States for serious ongoing atrocities in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang which he now presides over with a promotion to China’s apex decision making body, the 25-member Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China.

As during his tenure in Tibet, Chen is busy making life hell for the Uighur Muslims who do not conform to his idea of a patriotic Chinese citizen loyal to the party. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Stone has said Apr 18 that the US was deeply concerned about China’s detention of at least “tens of thousands” of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims and could take action under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act.

The Act allows the US government to place travel and financial restrictions on individuals anywhere in the world given credible proof of their role in human rights violations or corruption. The US authorities, in Dec 2017, designated 52 people under the act, including a Myanmar general allegedly involved in the deadly crackdown on Rohingya Muslims and a Chinese police official who oversaw the Beijing detention center that held Cao Shunli, a human rights activist who died in custody.

China defends its crackdown as a “People’s War on Terror” and a necessary move to purge separatist and religious extremist elements from Xinjiang, a vast region with more than 10 million Muslims, noted the Associated Press Apr 18. But the reality is that an extrajudicial detention programme has swept up many people, including relatives of American citizens, on ostensible offenses ranging from accessing foreign websites to contacting overseas relatives, the report added.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Stone has said the US was particularly concerned about the detained family members of six journalists — four US citizens and two US permanent residents who have reported on Xinjiang — working for Washington DC-based Radio Free Asia.

The report said Xinjiang authorities had established a network of detention centers operating seemingly without legal basis. Rights groups are said to estimate such centers to be holding at least tens of thousands of people who receive so-called political education for indefinite periods. And this is just one element in a far-reaching security regime credited to Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party official who previously ran neighbouring Tibet with ruthless brutality and efficiency. His Tbiert ‘efficiency’ apparently earned him the promotion to the Politburo, as did Hu Jintao before him. Other aspects of the campaign are said to include all-encompassing digital surveillance, mass deployment of police and severe regulations against religious customs and dress.

The report noted that US lawmakers had raised the possibility of Magnitsky Act sanctions this month, signaling growing concern over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Republican leaders of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Christopher H Smith of New Jersey, were reported to have asked the US ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, to visit the region and collect information on Xinjiang officials responsible for the mass detention policy.

Under the sanctions, which empower the Treasury Department to target officials anywhere for human rights violations and corruption, the US assets of listed individuals will be frozen and they will not be allowed to do business with US banks, the report noted.

Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has on Apr 18 warned the US against “interference in any form and groundless accusation on China’s internal affairs.” She has claimed that members of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang “live and work in peace and enjoy development and tranquility.”


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