US diplomats might soon be barred from entering Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to be detained in internment camps.
Beijing was considering banning all US diplomatic passport holders from entering Xinjiang, in retaliation for US legislation that would punish Chinese officials for human rights abuses, Hu Xijin (胡錫進), editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said in a tweet early yesterday morning.
The list was being sped up in response to a bill sponsored by US Senator Marco Rubio requiring sanctions against Chinese officials involved in alleged abuses of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, Hu said.
Beijing has threatened to publish such a list of companies since May, after the US placed restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co.
Hu, who did not cite where his information came from, said that China was also considering imposing visa restrictions on US officials and lawmakers for their “odious performance on Xinjiang issue.”
The US House of Representatives was yesterday expected to vote on the Xinjiang bill, which amends a version passed unanimously by the US Senate in September.
It adds provisions that require the US president to sanction Chinese government officials responsible for the repression of Uighurs and places restrictions on the export of devices that could be used to spy on, or restrict, the communications or movements of group members.
US lawmakers are working to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills to find a version that can pass swiftly through the US Congress before the end of this year.
That means any changes would need to be “precleared” by the relevant committees so the bill could be passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, Rubio said.
The leak of a cache of classified government documents that details the use of detention camps in Xinjiang has put more pressure on Beijing.
US criticisms of Chinese policies in Xinjiang, as well as pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, have exacerbated already worsening ties.
The two sides are attempting to negotiate an end to a trade war that has lasted more than a year.
China has promised firm “countermeasures” in response to the US passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which threatens to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials.
On Monday, China barred US military ships from visiting Hong Kong and said that it would place sanctions on several US human rights organizations that Beijing said had “behaved badly.”
The Global Times yesterday said in an editorial that those measures, seen by analysts as mostly symbolic, were just the beginning.
“The measures announced on Monday were only the lightest. China has so far been restrained, but that doesn’t mean that Beijing will not when necessary fight back hard against America’s increasingly worse provocations,” it said.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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