April 19, 2022
The United States on Monday banned the entry of an unknown number of Chinese “officials” for their participation in “repression” targeting ethnic or religious minorities, including Uighur Muslims whom Washington believes are victims of “genocide.”
In a statement, US Chief of Diplomacy Anthony Blinken announced that he has imposed “visa restrictions on officials of the People’s Republic of China suspected of responsibility for or complicity in policies or measures intended to repress religious or spiritual leaders, members of ethnic minorities, dissidents, human rights defenders, and journalists.” trade unionists, civil society activists, and peaceful protesters in China or abroad.”
Washington did not specify the number of officials targeted, their identity or their rank. The highly ambiguous US press release does not explain the reason for these punitive measures.
It comes as US President Joe Biden is trying to pressure Beijing to use its leverage with Russia to end the invasion of Ukraine – or at least refrain from stealing relief from Moscow.
In his press release, Anthony Blinken specifically denounced attempts to “harass, intimidate, surveil, and abduct” these persons, “including those seeking asylum abroad and US citizens defending these vulnerable populations.”
The foreign minister called on the Chinese government to “stop” “trying to silence Uyghur American activists” by “refusing to allow their family members in China to leave.”
Despite its denials, Beijing is accused of having held in political re-education camps more than a million Uyghurs, a Muslim minority living in Xinjiang, in the country’s northwest, and resorted in particular to forced labor there.
“We call on the Chinese government to end the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, its repressive policies in Tibet, its role against fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong and human rights abuses, particularly violations of religious freedom, elsewhere in the country,” concludes Anthony Blinken.