A Chinese paramilitary organization was sanctioned by the Trump administration over its alleged role in human rights abuses against Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of the country
The sanctions are the latest move by the Trump administration against China.
The U.S. government's punitive measures target the influential Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and two officials for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called “their connection to serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang.”
The officials are accused of implementing a surveillance, detention and indoctrination program in the region, targeting Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
The Treasury Department said in a statement that the sanctions mean that all property and interests of the company and the officials that are in the United States or controlled by someone in the United States, are blocked and must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The sanctions also restrict the ability of officials to travel to the United States and stops their ability to engage in transactions with U.S. companies and citizens.
Axios reported that the sanctions are significant in that the XPCC controls large parts of the economy in Xinjiang and employs nearly 12 percent of the local population, so sanctions could damage the region’s economy and prevent Chinese plans for economic expansion there.
The mover is the latest wave of sanctions against Chinese officials and organizations eyed for involvement in the mass persecution of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Earlier this month, the administration sanctioned three officials linked to human rights abuses.
The announcement comes a day after Pompeo told Senate lawmakers that the “tide is turning” against China as the U.S. leads an international pushback against Chinese dominance abroad and human rights abuses at home, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We see the Chinese Communist Party also for what it is: the central threat of our times. Our vigorous diplomacy has helped lead an international awakening to the threat of the CCP,” Pompeo said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department's budget. “The tide is turning.”
He said that “no administration, Republican or Democrat, has been as aggressive in confronting China’s malign actions as President Trump’s.”
“The Department of Justice is cracking down on Chinese [intellectual property] theft. We’ve sanctioned Chinese leaders for their brutality in Xinjiang, imposed export controls on companies that support it, and warned U.S. companies against using slave labor in their supply chains," he said.