World

China slams US Uighur Bill, warns ‘price must be paid’

It will also sanction rights groups who 'performed badly' in HK

BEIJING : China warned yesterday that a "price must be paid" after the US House of Representatives passed legislation seeking sanctions against senior Chinese officials over the crackdown on mainly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

The Uighur Act of 2019 condemns Beijing's "gross human rights violations" in the region of Xinjiang, where upwards of one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be held in re-education camps.

"For all wrong actions and words... the proper price must be paid," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.

When asked if the passing of the bill would impact talks for a phase one trade deal between the two economic giants, Ms Hua did not directly answer the question. But she said there was "no way this can have no effect on China-US relations as well as the two countries' cooperation in important areas."

The Foreign Ministry had earlier slammed the bill, saying it "viciously attacks the Chinese government's policy of governing Xinjiang."

Without giving any more details about what measures China would take, Ms Hua said the "price that must be paid will come eventually".

The bill "disregards the facts and mixes up black and white," said the Foreign Affairs Commission of China's legislature in one among a slew of strongly worded rebukes from government departments.

"It is regrettable that US Congress has not only turned a blind eye to Xinjiang's efforts to combat terrorism and protect human rights in accordance with laws and regulations, but also to Xinjiang's current economic development, social stability, national unity and religious harmony," the commission said.

A recent leak of classified Chinese government documents revealed a blueprint for rewiring the thoughts of ethnic minorities who had not committed any crimes. Beijing says the measures are necessary to combat terrorism and eradicate religious extremism.

China has repeatedly criticised the US for interfering in its internal affairs, most recently over the mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

After Mr Trump signed bills mandating sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, an annual review of Hong Kong's favourable trade status and a ban on exporting non-lethal munitions to Hong Kong police, China retaliated on Monday by suspending US military ship and aircraft visits to Hong Kong.

It also said it would sanction a number of groups, including Human Rights Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy, that have "performed badly" in regard to the unrest in Hong Kong. - AFP, AP

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