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US sanctions Chinese officials over Uighur accusations

CHINA-US relations have deteriorated further after Washington’s announcement of sanctions on Chinese officials for their alleged treatment of Uighur Muslims in the country’s autonomous Xinjiang region.

Speaking on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted: “The United States will not stand idly by as the [Chinese Communist Party] carries out human rights abuses targeting” the country’s Uighur population.

He cited “forced labour, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith.”

Sanctions were announced on Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region party secretary Chen Quanguo and three other officials the US “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the unjust detention or abuse of Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Mr Pompeo insisted the sanctions were authorised under a 2017 executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

The demands for action were led by anti-communist Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who co-signed a letter urging sanctions over the alleged treatment of Uighurs.

Washington has been accused of instigating a new cold war against China, both through a trade war and mobilising its naval and military might in a provocative show of strength.

It has also launched a propaganda offensive against Beijing over the unrest in Hong Kong.

It has deployed similar tactics to claim that China has rounded up as many as three million Uighur Muslims in labour camps while promoting unsubstantiated horror stories of the forced sterilisation of women.

Anti-China tropes have a long history going back for centuries, including accusations of organ theft that recently resurfaced from the CIA-backed Falun Gong cult.

The latest allegations, including those of forced sterlisation, are based on reports by Adrian Zenz, a far-right evangelical Christian whose speculative claims that 1.5 million Uighurs were held in internment camps have become mainstream.

But these claims came from just one source: the Istiqlal TV channel based in Turkey, which regularly hosts guests from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist group that aims to establish an independent homeland in Xinjiang called East Turkestan. 

The group, which is linked to al-Qaida, has carried out a string of terror attacks in the province in a bid to achieve its aims and also sent units to fight alongside jihadists in Syria.

Earlier this week Rushan Abbas, a woman posing as a Uighur “activist” on internet site Reddit, was exposed as a CIA asset who has worked for a long list of US regime change organisations including the US State Department, the Deptartment of Justice, Radio Free Asia, Homeland Security and in Guantanamo Bay during the Bush administration.

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