The US, which has an increasingly strained relationship with China, imposed sanctions on the autonomous region of Xinjiang’s Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, as well as three other officials. A US official warned the decision to sanction Chen is “no joke”, and said: “Not only in terms of symbolic and reputational affect, but it does have real meaning on a person’s ability to move around the world and conduct business.” But the decision to place sanctions on the high-ranking Chinese officials has triggered another furious reaction from Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing: “In light of these wrong actions, China will impose reciprocal measures on US officials and organisations that have displayed egregious behaviour on human rights in relation to Xinjiang affairs.
“We urge the U.S. to correct this wrong decision.
“If the US continues to proceed, China will take firm countermeasures.”
The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows Washington’s Government to target human rights violators by freezing any US assets, banning US travel and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.
Punishments were brought upon Zhu Hailun, deputy secretary of the regional legislative body, the Xinjiang’s People’s Congress; Wang Mingshan, the director and Communist Party secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau; and the former party secretary of the bureau, Huo Liujun.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the officials and their immediate families, as well as other unnamed Chinese Communist Party officials, would be banned from travelling to the US.
Last month, a report from the Associated Press claimed China was trying to slash birth rates among Uighurs with forced birth control. Beijing furiously denied these accusations.
Donald Trump has recently stopped short of imposing tougher sanctions on China over Uighur human rights amid dears they would interfere with ongoing trade negotiations with Beijing.
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao told a daily briefing in Beijing: “We reserve the right to take actions and all consequences will be borne by the Australian side.”
When asked which international law Australia is in breach of, he said: “Non-interference is a basic norm in international relations. Need I say more?”
China also lashed out at what it called “groundless accusations and measures” by the Australian Government on Hong Kong.
The Chinese embassy in Australia said in a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesman: “We urge the Australian side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs under any pretext or in any way.
“Otherwise it will lead to nothing but lifting a rock only to hit its own feet.”
Last week, Canada said it would suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and would consider boosting immigration from there.
But as with Australia, Beijing’s Ambassador Cong Peiwu warned Canada to stop “interfering in China’s internal affairs”
The warning came after the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the actions of the Canadian Government and said Beijing “reserved the right to further react”, warning Canada would “bear the consequences”.