Beijing takes aim at US passport holders, officials over Xinjiang bill

World | 3 Dec 2019 11:14 am

State media said the Chinese government will soon publish a list of “unreliable entities” that could lead to sanctions against US companies, signaling that trade talks are increasingly under threat from disputes over human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on the  Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. The bill was passed by the Senate in September.

The Communist Party-backed Global Times said in a tweet early today that the list was being sped up in response to a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Marco Rubio requiring measures against Chinese officials involved in alleged abuses of Uighur Muslims in the far west region of Xinjiang.

Beijing has threatened to publish such a list of companies since May, after the U.S. placed restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co.

A response from China on the Xinjiang issue that hits U.S. companies would add another obstacle as the two countries struggle to finalize a phase-one deal to de-escalate the trade war.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that legislation signed last week censuring China over the protests in Hong Kong had already complicated the talks.

Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin went further on Twitter, saying that U.S. officials may face visa restrictions and U.S. passport holders could be banned from entering the province.

In September the US State Department imposedvisa bans against Chinese government and Communist Party officials responsible for or complicit in grave human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

"No Chinese officials complicit in the mass internment and high-tech surveillance of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities should enjoy access to America. This is an important and long overdue step by the U.S. government. We should continue to do more to hold Chinese government and Communist Party officials accountable for potential crimes against humanity being committed in Xinjiang. The U.S should also press other nations to take similar steps, Chinese officials should not escape international accountability,” Rubio said in a statement. 
China stands accused of incarcerating as many as a million Uighurs as part of an anti-terrorism campaign, actions it describes as voluntary re-education. China has not specified which companies would be affected by the blacklist, though courier firm FedEx Corp. has been under particular scrutiny this year.

In a column in The Guardian late October, Rubio said: ".. we must recognize that this evil is not exclusive to Xinjiang or even to the nation’s Muslims, but one more consistent with the Chinese Communist party’s greater philosophy. Any religion or ideology that recognizes a higher power than the party is a threat that must be brought to heel or eliminated. Political and cultural conformity must be enforced at all costs.

"We see this in Xinjiang. We increasingly see it among the Hui, a separate population of Chinese Muslims with no history of radicalization, who are now regularly surveilled and repressed, and whose mosques are being stripped of their distinctive domes.

"We have seen it in Tibet, where monasteries have been destroyed for decades and the Buddhist faithful imprisoned and tortured for peaceful protest.

"We have seen it in China’s numerous Christian communities, where intense persecution has forced millions to practice their religion underground.

"We have even seen it in tiny, ancient sects like that of Kaifeng’s Jews, where the government recently banned communal worship for Passover and other holidays, as well as destroyed signs to erase evidence of the community’s Jewish history.''

A re-escalation of trade tensions also places more focus on a December 15 deadline for Trump to add yet more tariffs on Chinese imports.-Bloomberg/The Standard  

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