Citing the unethical way Chinese Uighur Muslims are treated in the country, the US State Department has imposed visa restrictions on officials belonging to the Chinese government and the Communist Party.
US is also looking to slap sanctions against officials who are connected to the crisis in Xinjiang where the Muslims are categorically forced to denounce their faith and religion and embrace the majority Han culture in China. While US did not name any Chinese officials, Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo will most likely be in the list.
This announcement comes at the time when the trade war between US and China are at an all-time high with both the countries slapping tariffs on the other's goods. Along with the announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that they are adding 28 Chinese public security bureaus and companies, which includes Hikvision, a video surveillance company, SenseTime Group Ltd, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co and Zhejiang Dahua Technology among others to the US blacklist.
"The United States calls on the People's Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate," Pompeo was quoted as saying by Reuters.
In the statement, Pompeo also mentioned the detaining and abuse of Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang along with the Uighurs.
The Chinese Embassy in the US denounced the sanctions, claiming that this was a strictly internal matter. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the Chinese embassy wrote, "With the excuse of human rights, the US side has gone one step further today and announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials, after imposing sanctions on some Chinese organizations and companies yesterday."
"It seriously violates the basic norms governing international relations, interferes in China's internal affairs and undermines China's interests. China deplores and firmly opposes that. Xinjiang does not have the so-called human rights issue claimed by the US. The accusations by the US are merely made-up pretexts for its interference," the Chinese embassy added.
The embassy ended its tread asking the US to stop 'its interference with China's internal affairs'. It wrote, "#Xinjiang affairs are purely China's internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. We urge the US to correct its mistakes at once and stop its interference in China's internal affairs."
"These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China's internal affairs," Geng Shuang, foreign ministry spokesman, in Beijing was quoted as saying by AFP.
Many in the US have hailed this move and have asked their allies to follow suit. However, Muslim majority nations have not spoken up about the treatment the Uighurs face in China, especially Pakistan, which is known for its strong relationship with the eastern superpower. The only country leader to speak about it is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Uighurs have a linguistic and cultural link with Turkey.