US shrugs off China’s tit-for-tat Xinjiang sanctions

July 14, 2020 11:57 pm0 commentsViews: 77

US lawmakers targeted by China with tit-for-tat sanctions over the latter’s Xinjiang repression. (Photo courtesy: CBN)

(TibetanReview.net, Jul14’20) – US lawmakers targeted by China with tit-for-tat sanctions over the latter’s Xinjiang repression have on Jul 13 responded with a mixture of ridicule and defiance, calling the punitive measures meaningless, reported the scmp.com Jul 14. And they have vowed to continue challenging Beijing over its human rights record undeterred.

Earlier, on Jul 13, the Chinese government announced targeted measures against three lawmakers, one government official, and a congressional-executive commission on human rights in China in retaliation for Washington’s moves last week to sanction three named Chinese officials for their role in gross human rights abuses in what China calls Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region but is known by the region’s independence activists as East Turkestan.

Those named by China for targeted sanctions were the Trump administration’s special envoy for religious freedom, Sam Brownback; Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz; Representative Chris Smith; and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), an influential panel that advises Congress and the administration on human rights matters in China.

According Representative Tom Suozzi, a CECC member, Beijing’s targeting of the panel only reinforced its “steadfastness to work together to see Beijing and the Chinese government held accountable for their ongoing human rights abuses against Uygur Muslims, Tibetans and the defenders of democracy in Hong Kong”.

“Our resolve, under both the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act & the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act … remains undeterred,” Suozzi, a Democrat from New York, has said in a tweet, referring to pieces of legislation brought by CECC members that have both become law.

The report noted that the congressional onslaught against the Chinese government has been largely bipartisan. However, the three lawmakers singled out by Beijing are all Republicans. Nevertheless, its designation of the CECC effectively broadens the umbrella to both parties, given that the 17 lawmakers who sit on the panel include both Democrats and Republicans. The panel has executive positions too; although they remain unfilled under the Trump Administration.

The report also noted that Beijing’s decision to primarily target legislators over administration officials had come despite the fact that last week’s sanctioning of Chinese officials was carried out by the executive branch and under provisions provided by the Global Magnitsky Act, rather than any recent China-focused legislation.

Besides, the Chinese government has not specified what form its own sanctions would take, only saying that they were “reciprocal” to the US administration’s actions, which will see the targeted Chinese officials stripped of control over US-based assets and barred from entering the country.

The US State Department has also issued a statement, saying Beijing’s “threats” would not deter the administration from “taking concrete action to hold [Chinese Communist Party] officials accountable for their ongoing campaign of human rights abuses against members of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang”.

The statement accused China of refusing to take responsibility for its actions by making the move to “to impose retaliatory sanctions on US government officials and organisations who have worked tirelessly to expose the [People’s Republic of China’s] human rights abuses.”

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has, while announcing the retaliatory sanctions, not elaborate on what the “corresponding sanctions” would entail.

However, she did make clear what China wanted. “We urge the US to immediately withdraw its wrong decision, and stop any words and actions that interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests.”

Those targeted by the US sanctions had included Mr Chen Quanguo, a member of China’s powerful 25-member Politburo, the Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang and the architect of the highly repressive control measures in Tibet Autonomous Region during his previous stint there. He is the most senior Chinese official ever to have been blacklisted by the US thus far.

The other two were Zhu Hailun, Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Committee, and Wang Mingshan, the current Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.

In Announcing the sanctions, which include travel ban and asset freezes, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week the US was acting against “horrific and systematic abuses” in the Xinjiang   region that included forced labour, mass detention and involuntary population control.

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