Biden administration sanctions Chinese officials for 'genocide' against Uyghurs days after diplomatic spat in Alaska

Biden administration sanctions Chinese officials for 'genocide' against Uyghurs days after diplomatic spat in Alaska
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was involved in a heated exchange with Chinese officials in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18.Frederic J. Brown/Reuters
  • The US on Monday announced new sanctions against two Chinese officials for "genocide" in Xinjiang.
  • Human-rights groups say China has forced over a million Uyghurs and other minorities into camps.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently confronted China's top diplomat over human-rights abuses.

The US Treasury Department on Monday unveiled new sanctions against two Chinese officials in response to what it described as serious human-rights abuse against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

The sanctions, which target Wang Junzheng, the secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and Chen Mingguo, the director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, were rolled out in coordination with Canada and European allies.

"Amid growing international condemnation, the PRC continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, using the abbreviation for China's official name, the People's Republic of China.
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Blinken said the US reiterated its call for the Chinese government to "bring an end to the repression" of Uyghurs, calling on China to release "all those arbitrarily held in internment camps and detention facilities."

"These actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to working multilaterally to advance respect for human rights and shining a light on those in the PRC government and CCP responsible for these atrocities," Blinken added, referring to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese government has forced more than a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities into detention camps in the Xinjiang region, according to human-rights groups. China has vehemently denied allegations it's committing genocide in Xinjiang.
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The announcement of new sanctions against Chinese officials came just days after Blinken was involved in a testy exchange with China's top diplomat in Anchorage, Alaska, as US and Chinese officials held their first face-to-face talks under President Joe Biden.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Blinken said the US intended to use the talks to discuss its concerns regarding human-rights abuses in Xinjiang, among other issues. Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat, responded by accusing the US of being condescending. In comments that lasted roughly 15 minutes, Yang said the US government was in no position to lecture other countries on human-rights abuses, alluding to racism in the US as he mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Blinken then hit back with an impassioned defense of the US, underscoring its willingness to confront its shortcomings "openly, publicly, transparently, not trying to ignore them, not trying to pretend they don't exist, not trying to sweep them under a rug."

Biden told reporters he was "proud" of Blinken's handling of the heated back-and-forth with the Chinese diplomats.

The dynamic between the US and China became increasingly contentious under the Trump administration, particularly as President Donald Trump blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on the Chinese government. Top experts have warned that the US and China are entering a new cold war that could have devastating consequences for the global economy.
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