China Sanctions Four US Officials Over Xinjiang

China has blacklisted four members of a U.S. government commission monitoring religious freedom in response to Washington’s latest measures over complaints of abuses in the country’s Xinjiang region.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that four officials from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) — chairwoman Nadine Maenza, vice-chairman Nury Turkel and commissioners Anurima Bhargava and James Carr — will be banned from China.

The quartet’s assets in China will be frozen and establishments within the country will be prohibited from dealing with them, according to Zhao.

Zhao said that the move will be a “countermeasure” after the U.S. Department of State announced sanctions two weeks ago on four Chinese officials citing Beijing’s alleged abuses of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

“It must be pointed out that Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and the US has no right and is in no position to interfere,” Zhao maintained.

The U.S. sanction had added to tensions between Washington and Beijing. Last month, Washington spearheaded a widespread diplomatic boycott on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as protest against China’s human rights record, angering Beijing for what Zhao called “political manipulation”.

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