US sanctions Chinese Communist Party in Uighur region for human rights abuses

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The Trump administration has announced further sanctions cracking down on Chinese Communist Party officials whom the United States believes have been involved in carrying out human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in western China.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control revealed on Friday that it is leveling sanctions against the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, described as “a paramilitary organization” that is “subordinate” to the Chinese Communist Party and which operates in the Xinjiang Uighur Auton omous Region with the purpose of “enhancing internal control over the region by advancing China’s vision of economic development in XUAR that emphasizes subordination to central planning and resource extraction.” The Treasury Department sanctions will also hit the XPCC’s former political commissar Sun Jinlong as well as Deputy Party Secretary and XPCC Commander Peng Jiarui.

“The entity and officials are being designated for their connection to serious human rights abuse against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, which reportedly include mass arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse, among other serious abuses targeting Uyghurs … and other ethnic minorities in the region,” the Treasury Department said. “These designations are the latest U.S. government actions in an ongoing effort to deter human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared, “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.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo simultaneously announced on Friday that Sun and Peng were being sanctioned under a presidential executive order flowing from the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. He said that the designation would also restrict the ability of Sun and Peng to travel to the U.S.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities rank as the stain of the century. The Trump Administration has led the world’s effort to impose tangible costs on the PRC’s continuous campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, intrusive surveillance, forced labor, forced population control, involuntary collection of biometric data, and genetic analyses targeted at these groups,” Pompeo said, adding, “today’s designations are the latest U.S. government action in an ongoing effort to deter human rights abuse in the Xinjiang region. We call on all countries to join us in condemning the CCP’s heinous abuse of the human rights of its own citizens, affecting countless families across the world.”

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department sanctioned a host of other Chinese Communist Party officials such as XUAR Chinese Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and former XUAR Deputy Party Secretary Zhu Hailun for similar abuses. The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau was also targeted by U.S. sanctions, and the U.S. also designated XPSB Director and Communist Party Secretary Wang Mingshan and former XPSB Party Secretary Huo Liujun.

Pompeo announced at the time that he was also designating the Chinese Communist Party’s Chen Quanguo, Zhu Hailun, Wang Mingshan, and others “for their involvement in gross violations of human rights” against the Uighurs and others. The designations by the State Department dictate that “they and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.”

The Commerce Department added nine Chinese Communist Party entities to a blacklist for their alleged complicity in human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region in May, and in July, the U.S. blocked 11 Chinese companies from purchasing U.S. products after determining that the Chinese businesses were involved in abuses against Uighurs. These actions were both a follow-up on the October 2019 decision to blacklist 28 other Chinese government-linked companies and agencies.

President Trump signed a law in June that enshrines human rights for Uighurs in U.S. policies toward China and requires the president to levy sanctions against Chinese party leaders in Xinjiang.

The Chinese Communist Party has reportedly imposed forced birth control, sterilizations, and abortions on the Uighur population in a race-based effort to reduce the minority Muslim population in the country, with a late June analysis by the Associated Press finding that Beijing is imposing “draconian measures to slash birth rates” among Uighur Muslims and other minorities “as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population” while the Chinese government “encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.”

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