Beijing recently announced sanctions on two American religious rights officials, a member of the Canadian parliament, and a subcommittee on human rights in Canada’s House of Commons. The sanctioned individuals are banned from entering communist China, including Macau and Hong Kong. Also, Chinese individuals and entities are prohibited from engaging in any kind of transaction with the sanctioned individuals.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson stated that their sanctions respond to the “unilateral sanctions” that the U.S. and Canada had slapped against some Chinese officials and entities on March 22. Both Western nations had imposed sanctions due to Beijing’s persecution of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. The U.S. sanctions targeted two Chinese officials for involvement in “arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse” of Uyghurs.
The foreign ministry spokesperson accused the sanctions imposed by Washington and Ottawa to be based on “rumors and disinformation.” The ministry asked relevant parties to stop interfering in communist China’s internal issues and manipulating the Xinjiang situation, failing which “they will get their fingers burnt.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned China’s sanctions. He said that Beijing’s attempts to silence those who speak on human rights and fundamental freedoms will only attract more international scrutiny of the communist regime’s crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region.
Washington and allied partners must sanction Communist China
One of the sanctioned American officials is Gayle Manchin, wife of Democrat Senator Joe Manchin and the Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). It had recommended that Washington and allied partners sanction communist China for its human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
“I feel flattered to be recognized by Communist China for calling out genocidal crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in the country… While I don’t have plans to travel to China this summer, I won’t stop speaking out when egregious violations of religious freedom are taking place as they are in China,” Manchin told Reuters in a statement. The other sanctioned American is Vice-Chair of USCIRF Tony Perkins.
The sanctioned Canadian is MP Michael Chong, the Vice-Chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. Chong said that he sees Beijing’s sanctions as a “badge of honor” and that it won’t have any practical effect on him since he does not plan to travel to China. The MP also said that the sanctions are an indication that parliamentarians are effectively bringing attention to the genocide of the Uyghur people.
Earlier this month, the committee had released a report concluding that Beijing’s atrocities against the Uyghurs is genocide.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Chinese sanctions “unacceptable actions,” stating that they are an attack on freedom of expression and transparency, two values at the heart of Canadian democracy.
The back and forth sanctions come amidst demands that the Vatican also speak out against communist China’s religious freedom abuses. Fredrik Fallman, Associate Professor of Sinology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, says that the Catholic Church and Beijing dialogue does not happen on equal terms.
“The Catholic Church often comments on the situation in other countries… Yet in China, the Vatican keeps silent on many concerning developments – including structural religious persecution, labor rights issues, and human rights abuses against the Uyghurs. It seems Vatican officials are holding China to a different standard compared to other countries,” Fallman said in a statement.