scorecardThe US placed sanctions on 4 Chinese Communist Party officials over abuse of Uighur Muslims
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The US placed sanctions on 4 Chinese Communist Party officials over abuse of Uighur Muslims

Sarah Al-Arshani   

The US placed sanctions on 4 Chinese Communist Party officials over abuse of Uighur Muslims
LifeInternational3 min read
FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2019, file photo, a man holds a sign during a rally to show support for Uighurs and their fight for human rights in Hong Kong. People from western China who are targets of a Chinese government crackdown say they have been threatened and harassed in the United States. Those fleeing the crackdown on the predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group typically receive U.S. asylum. But Uighurs tell The Associated Press and human rights groups they still afraid amid threats aimed at them and their families back in China. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)    Associated Press
  • Four Chinese officials were sanctioned by the United States over the abuse of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
  • Xinjiang Public Security Bureau as an entity also faced sanctions.
  • Chen Quanguo, a leading member of the powerful Politburo was one of the four officials to received sanctions.
  • China has been accused of torturing and abusing the Turkic Muslim minority group in what activist called tantamount to "genocide."
  • China has repeatedly denied those claims.

The United States has sanctioned four Chinese officials over human rights violations towards Uighur Muslims, the US Department of Treasury announced in a statement.

"The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

Xinjiang Public Security Bureau as an entity also faces sanctions.

According to the BBC, the Chinese Communist Party's top leader in Xinjiang Chen Quanguo was one of the officials President Donald Trump's administration placed visa and asset sanctions on.

Chen is a member of the powerful Politburo and is considered the "architect" of the party's policies towards minorities. In the past, he was in charge of Tibet. He is also the highest-ranking official to ever face US sanctions, the BBC reported.

"Chen Quanguo has inflicted immense pain and suffering upon millions of innocent Tibetans, Uyghurs, and even the general public in China, and this is but a small portion of the punishment that he deserves," Campaign for Uyghurs said in a statement.

Other officials subject to sanctions are Wang Mingshan, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau; Zhu Hailun, a senior party member in Xinjiang; and former security official Huo Liujun.

The Campaign for Uyghurs wrote that the news of these sanctions was "bittersweet."

"While this is an incredibly important step to hold a few of the greatest criminals in the world accountable, it is part of a necessarily longer string of actions," their statement read.

The Chinese Communist Party has been accused of torturing and abusing the Turkic Muslim minority group, including the use of detention centers where there have been reports of forced labor, surveillance, confinement, verbal and physical abuse, forced sterilization, and an intense Chinese Communist Party indoctrination regime.

Activist Rushan Abbas, the is the founder and executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs, a nonprofit organization that works to promote Uighur rights and freedom previously told Business Insider that she knows several people who entered the camps only to die soon after.

Abbas and other activists have called the abuse tantamount to "genocide." China has repeatedly denied claims of its abuse towards the group.

NPR reported that the move comes amid a strained relationship between China and the US, and the decision is likely to see China implement similar sanctions on American officials.

In the US, it is now considered a crime to have financial transactions with any of the sanctioned officials and their US-based assets will be frozen. Additionally, all of them except for Huo will face visa restrictions that prevent them and their families from visiting the US, the BBC reported.

According to a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: " I am also placing additional visa restrictions on other CCP officials believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the unjust detention or abuse of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang pursuant to the policy announced in October 2019 under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Their family members may also be subject to these restrictions."

On June 17, President Donald Trump signed into law the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which aims to punish China for its treatment of the Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. It was passed almost unanimously by the House and Senate in May.

The law gave the Trump administration 180 days to identify Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses and would level sanctions on those alleged to have roles in the mass surveillance and detention.

"The Act holds accountable perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor, and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uighurs and other minorities in China," Trump said in a statement.