US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Saturday that China’s tit-for-tat sanctions against two Americans in the growing dispute over Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs were “baseless” and would only bring more scrutiny over the “genocide” in Xinjiang.
“Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” Blinken said in a statement.
China on Saturday announced new sanctions against US and Canadian officials in a growing political and economic feud over its policies in the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin, would be barred from visiting mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, and having any dealings with Chinese financial entities.
The commission’s vice chair, Tony Perkins, was also included on the sanctions list, along with Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Chong and the body’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights.
China has strongly rejected accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and has launched calls for boycotts and other punishments against foreign firms including retailer H&M and Nike, along with sanctions against foreign government officials and activists whom it says are spreading false information about its policies toward Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.