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U.S. Sanctions China Over Human Rights Violations Of Uyghurs

Human rights violations against Muslim Uyghurs include mass detentions, surveillance, population control and political reeducation.


The United States is sanctioning China for its continued human rights violations against the ethnic minority population of Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The Department of State revealed that not only are there mass surveillance campaigns against the Uyghurs and other minorities, but “the Chinese Communist Party is using forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning” in Xinjiang.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the sanctions extend beyond the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to four specific “current or former” Chinese government officials: Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party Secretary of XUAR, Zhu Hailun, a former Deputy Party Secretary of the XUAR, the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB), the current Director and Communist Party Secretary of the XPSB, Wang Mingshan, and the former Party Secretary of the XPSB, Huo Liujun.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement about the sanctions claiming that the United States is committed to action. 

“The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith,” he said.

He also encouraged other nations to stand up to China.

“The United States is taking action today against the horrific and systematic abuses in Xinjiang and calls on all nations who share our concerns about the CCP’s attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms to join us in condemning this behavior,” read the statement.

In addition, Secretary Pompeo revealed that some of the officials named by the Treasury Department will be banned from entering the U.S.

“Today, I designated three senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang for gross violations of human rights, making them and their immediate family members ineligible for entry into the United States,” he wrote. 

According to the Treasury Department, the new sanctions block all named parties from transactions and prohibits “all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.” This includes “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.”

“The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world,” said the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven T. Mnuchin.

According to the OFAC, the numerous human rights violations committed by the CCP of the ethnic minority group the Uyghurs include “mass detentions and surveillance,” “methods of torture,” and “political reeducation.”

“Digital surveillance systems [are used] to track Uyghurs’ movements and activities, to include surveilling who they interact with and what they read,” the statement reads. 

State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus also reaffirmed the department’s commitment to taking action against China for their human rights violations and encouraging other countries to do the same. 

“The United States is not just calling out these abuses; we are taking action.” said Ortagus. “We’ve called on U.S. companies to scour their supply chains, we’ve banned travel to the U.S. for those involved with this repression, and we’ve blocked shipments implicated in these horrible actions taken by the CCP.”

While these sanctions are the most action taken by the United States government against China concerning the repression of the Uyghurs, they are not the first. In May, the Commerce Department put “24 governmental and commercial organizations to the Entity List for engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” And in June, President Donald Trump signed the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020” into law.

“The Act holds accountable perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor, and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uyghurs and other minorities in China,” read a statement by the president. 

In early July, Customs and Border Protection officials seized 13 tons of weaves and human hair products believed to have been made from Uyghurs in Chinese labor camps.