BEIJING (AP) – China announced on Tuesday sanctions against four members of the US government’s International Commission on Religious Freedom for retaliation for Chinese officials on allegations of abuse in the northwestern Xinjiang region.
Sanctions sanctions increase tensions over Xinjiang. Washington has banned imports from the region, which could be done by forced labor, while activists are calling for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. China has denied allegations of abuse and retaliated in the past, calling for a boycott of foreign shoe and clothing brands.
The chairman of the US panel and three members have been banned from visiting mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and all assets in their country will be frozen, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Zhao identified Nadine Maenza, chairman, Nury Turkel, vice-chairman, and Anurima Bhargava and James Carr as targets. Zhao did not indicate whether they had property in China.
China threatened retaliation after the US Treasury Department announced on December 10 sanctions on two officials accused of cracking down on Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Beijing is accused of mass detentions, forced abortions and other abuses.
The Treasury targeted Shohrat Zakir, who was chairman of the regional government from 2018 until the beginning of this year, and Erken Tuniyaz, who is currently in this position and was previously vice-chairman.
“The United States should lift so-called sanctions and end its interference in the internal affairs of Xinjiang and China,” Zhao said. “China will provide further answers as the situation develops.”