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United States and Canada criticize China for tit-for-tat sanctions in rights row

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dpa/GNA – The United States and Canada criticized China on Saturday for retaliatory sanctions imposed by Beijing in an ongoing row over human rights.

In a coordinated move, the US, the European Union, Britain and Canada on Monday slapped sanctions on Chinese officials and entities for abuses against the mostly Muslim Uighur people.

Beijing announced sanctions on two officials from the US government’s religious freedom commission, a Canadian lawmaker and the Canadian parliament’s human rights committee on Saturday, citing Washington and Ottawa’s sanctions that it said were “based on rumors and misinformation.”

The individuals will not be able to travel to China’s mainland, Hong Kong or Macao and Chinese businesses and institutions are barred from doing business with them or holding exchanges with the Canadian committee.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the move.

“Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” Blinken said.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the sanctions were “unacceptable actions.”

“China’s sanctions are an attack on transparency and freedom of expression – values at the heart of our democracy,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

China had already retaliated against Britain and the EU with tit-for-tat sanctions earlier in the week.

In the last few years, hundreds of Uighurs, Kazakhs and Huis have testified that they were held in internment camps in Xinjiang as part of what observers say is a government campaign to forcibly assimilate the minorities. There have been reports of torture and sexual abuse.

The Chinese government says the camps – estimated to have held more than 1 million people since 2017 – are “vocational education centres” to eradicate extremism and terrorism.

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