Monday 13 July 2020 12:47 pm

China retaliates with sanctions in US row over Uighur Muslims

China will levy “corresponding sanctions” against the US, it said today, after Washington penalised senior Chinese officials over the treatment of minority Uighur Muslims.

The sanctions targeted US senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, US representative Chris Smith, ambassador at large for international religious freedom Sam Brownback and the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

Rubio and Cruz have both supported legislation that would punish China’s actions in Xinjiang. Smith has been an outspoken critic of China on a host of issues.

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Relations between the two economic powerhouses have soured over disagreements on matters such as coronavirus, trade, telecoms giant Huawei and a sweeping national security law imposed on Hong Kong.

“The US actions seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations and seriously damage Sino-US relations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

“China will make further responses based on how the situation develops.”

UN experts and activists say at least 1m ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. 

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China describes the sites as training centres to help stamp out terrorism and extremism in the country, and give people new skills.

Meanwhile Washington’s measures against Chinese officials to date have involved freezing US assets, US travel bans and prohibiting US firms from doing business with them.