Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 5 News List

US looking into China’s crackdown on Muslims

AN OPTION:The US assistant secretary of state said that the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows targeted sanctions and visa bans, could be used to curb human rights abuses

Reuters, WASHINGTON

The US is looking more closely at a crackdown by China on minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region, a senior US economic official said on Thursday, as Washington considers imposing sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.

“We are looking at the situation, and Global Magnitsky is a tool that we use to curb human rights abuses around the world,” US Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh told a congressional hearing.

Singh was responding to a question about possible sanctions against China for its treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

The Global Magnitsky Act allows the executive branch to impose visa bans and targeted sanctions on individuals anywhere in the world responsible for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.

A UN rights panel last month said it had received credible reports that up to 1 million ethnic Uighurs might be held in extra-legal detention in Xinjiang, calling for them to be freed.

The US Department of State this week acknowledged receipt of a letter from a bipartisan group of US lawmakers asking US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials accused of overseeing policies in Xinjiang.

The officials include Chen Quanguo (陳全國), the Chinese Communist Party chief in Xinjiang and a member of the party’s politburo.

Any sanctions decision would be a rare move on human rights grounds by US President Donald Trump’s administration against China, with which it is engaged in a trade war while also seeking Beijing’s help to resolve a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Acting against a senior official like Chen would be unprecedented and would greatly anger Beijing.

The State Department on Tuesday expressed concern over China’s “worsening crackdown” on Muslims in Xinjiang, while US congressional sources said discussions of possible sanctions had gained momentum, although imposition of steps did not appear imminent.

Also under consideration are sanctions the lawmakers sought against several Chinese companies involved in building detention camps and creating surveillance systems used to monitor Uighurs.

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