Beijing on Thursday slammed a new US law that would sanction Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, saying it “maliciously attacks” China’s policy in the Xinjiang region.
China will “resolutely hit back and the US will bear the burden of all subsequent consequences”, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement after President Donald Trump signed the Uighur Human Rights Act into law Wednesday.
The legislation, which passed Congress almost unanimously, requires the US administration to determine which Chinese officials are responsible for the “arbitrary detention, torture and harassment” of Uighurs and other minorities.
The United States would then freeze any assets the officials hold in the world’s largest economy and ban their entry into the country.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the act “rudely interferes in China’s internal affairs”, and urged the US to “immediately correct its mistakes”.
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“This so-called act deliberately slanders the human rights situation in Xinjiang and maliciously attacks China’s policy in governing Xinjiang,” the ministry said.
Activists say China has rounded up at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims and is trying to forcibly assimilate them by wiping out their culture and punishing basic Islamic practices.
Beijing counters that it is running vocational educational centres that offer an alternative to Islamic extremism.
Trump signed the act just as excerpts emerged from an explosive new book by his former national security advisor John Bolton, who said the president told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that he approved of the vast detention camps.