In Summary
  • China wants visa restriction on its officials by US withdrawn.
  • Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the move to blacklist 28 of its firms was based on 'groundless' claims and threatened to counter with their own list.
  • Geng called the US moves "completely futile" and warned China would take "firm" action against violations of its sovereignty.

Beijing

Beijing on Wednesday decried a US decision to restrict visas for Chinese officials linked to the repression of Xinjiang Muslims and called on Washington to withdraw the measure.

The United States has stepped up its criticism of China's treatment of Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the western region, where rights group say more than one million of them are held in re-education camps.

Washington announced earlier this week the blacklisting of 28 Chinese entities involved in rights violations in Xinjiang, which China has said was based on "groundless" claims.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the visa curbs on Tuesday, urging China to cease its "campaign of repression" in the region and release those interned in the camps.

China had until recently denied the camps existed, but later described them as "vocational education centres" where people learn Mandarin and job skills as necessary counter-terrorism measures.

US ACTIONS MISGUIDED

The US is "disregarding the facts, slandering and smearing China on Xinjiang-related issues," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press conference Wednesday, where he said the US actions were guided by "sinister intentions."

Pompeo in his statement also criticised "pervasive, high-tech surveillance" as part of "highly repressive" Chinese policy in the region.

Geng also took issue with the European Parliament for nominating Ilham Tohti, a Uighur scholar serving a life sentence on separatism charges for advocating the rights of Uighurs, on the shortlist for its Sakharov Prize for human rights.

"Under the pretence of human rights, this institution is whitewashing such a separatist supporting violent and terrorist acts," Geng said.

Last month the Council of Europe awarded its Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to Tohti for "giving the entire Uighur people a voice", drawing bitter criticism from the Chinese authorities, who said that even nominating him was effectively "supporting terrorism".

MAJOR CRACKDOWN

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