The U.S. State Department has enforced visa travel restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials it believes are responsible or complicit “in the detention or abuse of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups,” a statement says released on October 8.
Family members of the sanctioned individuals may also be subject to the restrictions.
The statement didn’t specify the titles or names of the sanctioned individuals.
Such actions “include mass detentions in internment camps; pervasive, high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities; and coercion of individuals to return from abroad to an often perilous fate in China.”
In the statement, the United States urged Beijing to “immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.”
The restrictive measures follow the blacklisting of 28 Chinese organizations the previous day for allegedly committing the same human rights abuses toward Muslim ethnic groups in the western Chinese region.
The Department of Commerce said the entities were now on the so-called Entity List, which bars them from buying products from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.
The targeted organizations include 20 Chinese public-security bureaus and eight companies such as video-surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial-recognition technology Sense Time and Megvii Technology.
Beijing expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the U.S. move, and called claims of rights violations in Xinjiang “groundless.”
“This act seriously violates the basic norms of international relations, interferes with China’s internal affairs, and damages the interests of the Chinese side,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a press briefing.
China is facing growing international criticism over its policies in Xinjiang.
UN experts and activists say at least 1 million Uyghurs, and members of other largely Muslim minority groups, have been detained in camps in the remote region.
Beijing insists the detention sites are “vocational” centers aimed at training and skills development.