The United States on Tuesday announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials suspected of being involved in the detention of millions of Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups in the western region of Xinjiang.
The statement did not specify how many or which officials would be targeted.
The move comes as the State Department has increased its public condemnation of China’s arbitrary detention of up to two million Uyghurs.
The visa restrictions also follow the Commerce Department’s blacklisting on Monday of 28 Chinese companies, government offices and security bureaus over their alleged role in facilitating human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.
Official statement of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:
“The Chinese government has instituted a highly repressive campaign against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) that includes mass detentions in internment camps; pervasive, high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities; and coercion of individuals to return from abroad to an often perilous fate in China. Today, I am announcing:
Visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China. Family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.
These visa restrictions complement yesterday’s announcement by the Department of Commerce regarding the imposition of export restrictions on U.S. products exported to 28 entities, including elements of the Public Security Bureau and commercial companies in Xinjiang, involved in China’s campaign of surveillance, detention, and repression.
The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate. The protection of human rights is of fundamental importance, and all countries must respect their human rights obligations and commitments. The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these abuses.”
A Chinese Embassy spokesperson denounced the visa restrictions, saying “it violates the basic norms governing international relations, interferes in China’s internal affairs and undermines China’s interests.”
“Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference.”