China bites back at U.S. suggestion of sanctions over concentration camps
The response follows a new bipartisan letter highlighting China’s move to detain upwards of one million Muslims.
Earlier this week, a bipartisan slate of senators took a public, and unprecedented, stance against China’s ongoing campaign to detain upwards of a million ethnic Uyghurs in concentration camps across China’s west. And if China’s response is anything to go by, the senators touched a nerve. published a letter calling for potential sanctions on those responsible for the concentration camps, China’s rebuke was swift. As Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday, “The policies and equal rights that Chinese minorities enjoy are far better than in the U.S., which has lot issues with racism and human rights protection.” Hua added that the U.S. officials should “serve the Americans properly instead of poking their noses in other countries’ affairs and pretending to be a judge of human rights.” Thus far, it appears that the letter, written to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has had little discernible effect. However, it presented a marked step toward the U.S. highlighting the ongoing plight of the ethnic Uyghur population in China’s western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims — and potentially more — are now being detained, with scant communication with the outside world. At last check, China had constructed some 1,300 concentration camps to house the Uyghurs, as well as ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, with more camps planned for construction. The bipartisan letter, written on Wednesday, calls on Pompeo and Mnuchin to consider designating those responsible for the series of camps — “China’s Muslim gulag,” one Xinjiang scholar called them — as individuals and entities to be sanctioned under the U.S.’s Global Magnitsky Act. As the officials write:After 17 American officials — including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) —
[China’s] Muslim ethnic minorities are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored. Given the gravity of the situation, and the severity and scope of the rights abuses being perpetrated, we urge you to apply Global Magnitsky sanctions, and consider additional measures, against senior Chinese Government and Communist Party officials who oversee these repressive policies, including [Xinjiang] Party Secretary Chen Quanguo.range from Dominican politicians who were “engaging in corrupt acts” to Cambodian military leaders who were involved “in serious human rights abuse.” Most pertinently, others who’ve been sanctioned include those responsible for violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar — and a Chinese police official who ran the prison where human rights activist Cao Shunli died. This week’s letter also follows a similar bipartisan missive to Pompeo last month, highlighting how Chinese authorities in Xinjiang had specifically targeted family members of U.S.-based reporters at Radio Free Asia, one of the few outlets highlighting the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the region. That letter, signed by officials like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), urged Pompeo, “at every opportunity, to raise this urgent issue in your diplomatic communications with your Chinese counterparts.”