U.S. Imposes Visa Restrictions On Chinese Officials For Repression Of Muslims

Accusing the Chinese government of instituting a highly repressive campaign against Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, the U.S. State Department announced on Tuesday visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials.

The visa restrictions target 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 the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Chinese government of engaging in 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.

“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,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The protection of human rights is of fundamental importance, and all countries must respect their human rights obligations and commitments,” he added. “The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these abuses.”

Pompeo said the visa restrictions complement yesterday’s move by the Trump administration to blacklist 28 entities allegedly involved in China’s campaign of surveillance, detention, and repression.

In response, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce called on the U.S. to “stop interfering” in “China’s internal affairs.”

The latest developments have cast a shadow over upcoming high-level trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials in Washington.

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