(TibetanReview.net, Oct09’19) – The United States State Department has on Oct 8 slapped travel bans on Chinese officials involved in a massive crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. This came a day after the Commerce Department blacklisted Chinese government agencies and a number of Chinese companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology used to repress Muslim minorities. China has responded angrily to the US move, calling it interference in its internal affairs.
The State Department said it would not issue visas to Chinese government and Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in mass detentions and abuses in the Xinjiang province, reported japantimes.co.jp Oct 8. It did not identify the officials or say how many were affected by the ban, which can also be applied to their immediate family members.
The report noted that lawmakers had specifically asked for action against Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party chief for Xinjiang and a member of the party’s powerful Politburo. He had earlier led iron-fisted policies in Tibet and has gained a reputation within the party for his handling of minority groups, earning him a place in the Politburo.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was reported to have said in a statement that China should halt its “campaign of repression,” release all those arbitrarily detained, and stop trying to coerce members of Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China.
The State Department announcement came a day after the Commerce Department blacklisted Chinese government agencies and some 28 Chinese companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology that the US says is being used to repress Muslim minorities. The blacklist bars US firms from selling technology to the Chinese companies without government approval.
Beijing has vowed to “take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard” its interests but given no details of possible retaliation.
At least one million Muslims, or even as much as two million of them, are said to be incarcerated in prison-like detention centers in Xinjiang where China has also imposed harsh travel restrictions and a massive surveillance network equipped with facial recognition technology. Blatantly anti-Muslim and even genocidal practices were alleged to be going on in those camps.
Denying any human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China has accused the US of utilizing “made-up pretexts for its interference”, claiming that the “counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang are aimed to eradicate the breeding soil of extremism and terrorism,” noted heraldpublicist.com Oct 9.