China Bites Back at US Human Rights Sanctions as Tensions Increase

Ellie Matthews | Content Writer

The US announced sanctions against Chinese politicians involved in the human rights violations, and a widely condemned new security law, in Xinjiang in July. These sanctions, passed by both the House and Senate, include travel restrictions and the penalisation of banks found doing business with these officials.

Accusations of mass detention, religious persecution and forced sterilisation of Uighurs and others have fuelled the building tension. Uighurs, ethnically Turkic and mostly Muslim, make up about 45% of Xinjiang’s population. One example of these horrific human rights abuses is that, by 2019, Xinjiang ‘planned’ to subject at least 80% of women of childbearing age in rural Uighurs regions to intrusive birth prevention surgeries (IUDs or sterilizations), according to Adrian Zenz for the Jamestown Foundation.

In 1997, authority over Hong Kong was handed back to China as a former UK colony, along-side certain freedoms guaranteed for 50 years under the ‘one country, two systems’ ideology. In response to Hong Kong’s political unrest, the UK has offered residency and citizenship to up to three million Hong Kong residents. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the passing of the new security law was a ‘clear and serious breach’ of the 1985 Sino-British joint declara-tion. China has since threatened ‘corresponding measures’ to block the citizenship plan.

China has also imposed sanctions on 11 US citizens, including Chinese officials and allies, for curtailing political freedoms. Several Republican Senators and Representative Chris Smith are listed along with others from NPOs and rights groups.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian credited the move to US sanctions, ‘In response to those wrong US behaviours, China has decided to impose sanctions on individuals who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues.’

With Huawei removed from the UK, TikTok questioned and banned in many countries, and questionable activity on WeChat, it may be a while before the Chinese government’s intentions become clear.

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