STATEMENT: Chinese Government Imposes Arbitrary Sanctions on US Officials

Statement – For immediate release
14 July 2020
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
+49 89 5432 1999 or
 [email protected]

In retaliation for the passing of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act and the imposition of targeted sanctions against five Chinese officials and entities responsible for human rights atrocities against Uyghurs, the Chinese government has announced that it is imposing sanctions on US officials. All of the targets of the CCP’s sanctions have been vocal on the Uyghur issue or spearheaded concrete action to stop the Uyghur genocide.

The contrast between the two sanction regimes is striking and speaks to the CCP’s disregard of human rights and the rule of law. The targeted sanctions imposed by the US government targeted five Chinese officials and entities who were directly responsible for atrocities and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs, especially the creation and implementation of the internment camp system. They included the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB), Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party Secretary of the Uyghur region, Zhu Hailun, a former Deputy Party Secretary of the region, Wang Mingshan, the current Director and Communist Party Secretary of the XPSB, and, Huo Liujun, the former Party Secretary of the XPSB. The sanctions were the result of months of evidence gathering to provide concrete proof of their culpability in these atrocities and aim to bring an end to the CCP’s genocidal policies towards Uyghurs.

Conversely, the sanctions imposed by the Chinese government happened days after the sanctions on CCP officials were announced in an act of retaliation. They targeted U.S. officials Senators Rubio and Cruz, US Representative Chris Smith, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, all individuals and entities who have consistently raised the human rights crisis in East Turkistan and pushed for concrete action. The spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the US to “immediately revoke its wrong decision and stop any words and deeds that interfere in China’s internal affairs and harm China’s interests” when announcing the retaliatory sanctions.

Instead of taking steps to stop its inhuman and genocidal policies towards the Uyghur people, the Chinese government has chosen to retaliate against those who raised these human rights concerns. This is not the first time that the Chinese government has retaliated against perceived slights in an arbitrary manner. After Canada detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou due to an extradition request from the US, the Chinese government responded by arbitrarily detaining Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman. They have since engaged in hostage diplomacy, holding these two men on unfounded charges in order to strong-arm the Canadian government into releasing Meng Wanzhou. While Meng Wanzhou’s case is being considered in the Canadian court system, in accordance with Canada’s legal system, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor languish in arbitrary detention with minimal contact with their families, beholden to the whims of the CCP rather than any legal precedent.

These examples point to the growing unilateralism and arbitrary nature of the Chinese government’s relations with other countries. China’s disdain for the rule of law domestically and disregard for international norms and values should be of great concern to the international community. Instead of addressing its severe human rights violations or listening to voices of the people under its authority, the Chinese government instead punishes, sanctions and attempts to silence all those who try to speak up.

“The Chinese government is not only trying to silence Uyghurs in East Turkistan and Uyghur activists in exile from speaking about its atrocities in East Turkistan, but it is also trying to silence the entire world, including high-level officials of other governments,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. “The CCP’s aggressive and unilateral actions should be a wake-up call for the international community. The Chinese government will not hesitate to punish other nations when their interests do not align with the CCP’s.”

We urge government officials and policymakers not to let the Chinese government use strong-arm tactics and retaliatory measures to silence criticism of its genocidal policies or to stop real action from being taken. The Uyghur people are facing a critical and immediate threat and need the international community to take action to stop the suffering of the Uyghur people.