US curbs China officials’ visas over minority ‘repression’
Washington: The US said on Tuesday it would curb visas for Chinese officials until Beijing ends its “repression” of Uighurs and other Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang, a day after imposing commercial restrictions.
The move by the Trump administration marks the most forceful attempt by a foreign power to address what some rights groups call a historic crisis in Xinjiang. “China has forcibly detained over one million Muslims in a brutal, systematic campaign to erase religion and culture in Xinjiang,” secretary of state Mike Pompeo tweeted. “China must end its draconian surveillance and repression, release all those arbitrarily detained and cease its coercion of Chinese Muslims abroad.”
Pompeo added the state department would restrict visas granted to government and ruling Communist Party officials involved in “detention or abuse” of Uighurs, Kazakhs or members of other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang. The order will also affect their family members, including children who may be seeking to study in the US.
The state department said it could not specify which officials were affected due to US confidentiality laws. But lawmakers have specifically asked for action against Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party chief for Xinjiang. Reputed within the party for his handling of minority groups, he earlier led iron-fisted policies aimed at crushing dissent in Tibet.
China denied any human rights abuses in Xinjiang. “The counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation measures in Xinjiang are aimed to eradicate the breeding soil of extremism and terrorism,” the Chinese embassy in Washington tweeted. “They are in line with Chinese laws... and are supported by all 25 million people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang,” it said.
China voiced anger at the move, denying any human rights abuses in Xinjiang and accusing the US of using ‘made-up pretexts for its interference’