The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Chen Quanguo, a member of China’s powerful Politburo, and three other senior officials, accusing them of serious human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority in a move likely to further increase tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Chen is the Communist Party Secretary in the far western region of Xinjiang, where the UN estimates about one million Uighurs have been detained in re-education camps that China describes as vocational skills training centres necessary to combat “extremism”.
He is the most senior Chinese official ever to have been blacklisted by the US.
“The United States calls upon the world to stand against the CCP’s acts against its own minority communities in Xinjiang, including mass arbitrary detention, forced labour, religious persecution, and forced birth control and sterilisation,” a White House official told reporters, saying the blacklisting was “no joke”.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment.