US targets Chinese officials for Xinjiang human rights abuses

Those targeted include including Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary for the region.

On Thursday, the Departments of State and Treasury imposed sanctions on a number of officials, including Chen, Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Committee (XPLC) Zhu Hailun and the current Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB) Wang Mingshan. The move comes amid escalated tensions between Washington and Beijing.

"The United States will not stand idly by as the (Chinese Communist Party) carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement announcing visa restrictions against the three officials, which block them and their families from entering the US.

According to the US State Department, the Chinese government has detained "more than one million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups" who are reportedly "subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and death."

The top US diplomat recently condemned this "brutal campaign of repression" as "a human-rights violation on a scale we have not seen since World War II."

In his statement, Pompeo said that Chen -- who is also a member of the Chinese Politburo -- "oversaw extensive abuses in Tibetan areas, using many of the same horrific practices and policies CCP officials currently employ in Xinjiang."

Pompeo said he was "placing additional visa restrictions on other CCP officials believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the unjust detention or abuse of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang."

The US Treasury Department designated Chen, Zhu and Wang,as well as the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and former Party Secretary Huo Liujun Thursday.

Under the designations, "all property and interests in property of the entity and individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC."

"The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project praised the targeted sanctions in a statement Thursday.

"At last, real consequences have begun. This comes at the 11th hour for Uyghurs," said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat,. "A global response is long overdue. Now there is finally action by one government. Will other countries wait until it is indeed too late?"

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