A masked protester holds a US flag during a protest against China’s human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province and calls on the US government to crack down on Beijing on April 6, 2019 in Washington, USA.
Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
China has imposed sanctions on two US religious rights officials, a Canadian MP and a subcommittee on human rights, in Canada’s lower house, according to a statement released by the Chinese State Department on Saturday.
The sanctions are the latest escalation in a growing dispute between Western nations and Beijing over the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly in Xinjiang Province.
The Chinese sanctions target the chairman and vice chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins. USCIRF has condemned China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang and approved recent US sanctions against Chinese officials.
The US condemned the sanctions in a statement from the US State Department late Saturday calling the measures “unfounded”.
“Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and silence those who advocate human rights and fundamental freedoms only add to increasing international control over the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said in the statement.
Beijing also targeted Canadian MP Michael Chong, who is vice chairman of the House of Common’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights was also sanctioned.
The House of Common Foreign Affairs Committee released a report earlier this month based on meetings of the subcommittee that concluded that human rights violations against Uighur Muslims in China constitute crimes against humanity and genocide.
Chinese sanctions prohibit officials from entering mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and prohibit Chinese citizens and institutions from doing business with the officials and interacting with the Human Rights Subcommittee.
The sanctions are in response to penalties imposed by the US on two Chinese officials earlier this week. The government of Biden said it imposed these sanctions in response to human rights violations against Uighur Muslims.
The US sanctions were directed against China’s Wang Junzheng, secretary of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Party Committee, and Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.
The two officials were targeted for their links to “arbitrary detention and aggravated physical abuse, among other serious human rights violations against Uyghurs,” the Treasury Department said in a statement Monday.
Canada also imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for treating Uyghurs.