The State Department on Monday announced it would restrict the visas of some Chinese-government officials, blocking their entry to the United States, over alleged “repressive acts” against ethnic and religious groups.
“The United States rejects efforts by PRC officials to harass, intimidate, surveil, and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and U.S. citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations,” the department said in a statement. “We are committed to defending human rights around the world and will continue to use all diplomatic and economic measures to promote accountability.”
The department did not name any specific individuals. A spokesman for the State Department told the Hill that is because individual visa records are confidential under U.S. law.
The officials impacted by the new sanctions are believed to be responsible for or complicit in efforts to repress religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human-rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil-society organizers, and peaceful protesters both in and outside China.
The travel restrictions come more than a year after the U.S. first officially accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghur community in Xinjiang. China has run a system of concentration camps, forced labor, and high-tech surveillance impacting more than 1 million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.
The State Department called on China to “cease its acts of transnational repression,” including the silencing of Uyghur-American activists and other Uyghur individuals “serving the American people by denying exit permission to their family members in China.”
“We will continue to work with the international community to promote accountability for PRC officials responsible for atrocities and human rights violations and abuses wherever they occur, including within China, the United States, and elsewhere around the world,” the statement said.