China, US in new spat over Uighur crackdown

Above, people attend a rally in Hong Kong on December 22, 2019 to show support for the Uighur minority. Activists claim China has rounded up more than one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in a vast brainwashing campaign. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 10 July 2020

China, US in new spat over Uighur crackdown

  • Latest Chinese response followed a US announcement of visa bans and an assets freeze on three officials
  • The Uighur Human Rights Project, an advocacy group, hailed the sanctions

BEIJING: China said Friday it will impose tit-for-tat measures after the United States slapped sanctions on Chinese officials for their involvement in a crackdown on Muslim minorities, raising tensions between the superpowers.
The two countries have traded barbs and sanctions on a slew of issues since President Donald Trump took office, from trade to more recent spats over the coronavirus pandemic, a security law in Hong Kong, and Chinese policies in the far west regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.
The latest Chinese response followed a US announcement of visa bans and an assets freeze on three officials, including Chen Quanquo, the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang and architect of Beijing’s hardline policies against restive minorities.
“The US actions seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations, and seriously damage China-US relations,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a briefing.
“China has decided to impose reciprocal measures against the relevant US institutions and individuals who behave badly on Xinjiang-related issues,” Zhao said, without providing details about the sanctions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the United States was acting against “horrific and systematic abuses” in Xinjiang including forced labor, mass detention and involuntary population control.
The back-and-forth over Xinjiang comes just days after the two countries imposed visa restrictions on each other over their disagreement on Tibet.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday blamed the rising tensions on “McCarthy-style paranoia” in the United States.
Witnesses and human rights groups say that China has rounded up more than one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang in a vast brainwashing campaign aimed at forcibly homogenizing minorities into the country’s Han majority.
Pompeo in a conference call with reporters Thursday called the situation “the stain of the century” and has previously drawn parallels with the Holocaust.
China counters that it is providing education and vocational training in a bid to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism following a spate of deadly violence.
The Uighur Human Rights Project, an advocacy group, hailed the sanctions and urged other countries to follow suit.
“At last, real consequences have begun. This comes at the 11th hour for Uighurs,” said the US-based group’s executive director, Omer Kanat.
The other two officials hit with sanctions Thursday were Wang Mingshan, the director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, and Zhu Hailun, a former senior Communist leader in the region.
The Treasury Department sanctions also make it a crime in the United States to conduct financial transactions with the three people as well as a fourth person, former security official Huo Liujun, who was not subjected to the separate visa restrictions.
The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on the security bureau as an institution, pointing to its sweeping digital surveillance of Uighurs and other minorities.
The visa ban impacts officials’ immediate families, depriving their children of the prestige of jetsetting across the Pacific for education or pleasure.


Spain’s former king leaving country amid financial scandal

Updated 29 min 43 sec ago

Spain’s former king leaving country amid financial scandal

  • The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975
  • Marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favor of his son Felipe VI

MADRID: Spain’s former monarch, King Juan Carlos I, says he is leaving Spain to live in another country amid a financial scandal.
The royal family’s website on Monday published a letter from Juan Carlos to his son, King Felipe VI, saying “I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain.”
Spain’s prime minister recently said he found the developments about Juan Carlos — including investigations in Spain and Switzerland — “disturbing.”
The 82-year-old former king is credited with helping Spain peacefully restore democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
But marred by scandals in the later years of his reign, Juan Carlos in 2014 abdicated in favor of his son Felipe VI, losing the inviolability protection Spain’s Constitution grants to the head of state.
The royal house has denied that Felipe had any knowledge of his father’s alleged financial irregularities.