The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies to punish Beijing's detention of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps, according to current and former American officials, The New York Times writes. For those who can read, they read out from a paper but for those who cannot, they said, "You can sing a song or tell a story and we will record you".
The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a letter two weeks ago urging them to adopt sanctions against government officials "complicit in human rights abuses" as well as entities that help the government to carry out "mass detentions and surveillance of ethnic minorities". "I'm not going to get ahead of any potential activity that the US Government may take".
"The Chinese are always opposed to the United States using the Xinjiang related issues to interfere in China-related affairs", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.
Instead of addressing any specific allegations of abuse in the Human Rights Watch report, spokesperson Geng Shuang 耿爽 attacked the NGO's credibility: "This organization has formed a habit of treating China with prejudice, distorting facts and stirring up troubles".
"The Chinese government protects people's freedom of religion and people of all ethnic groups are fully entitled to freedom of religion".
More importantly, the rights watchdog said that China is unmindful of any repercussions from its treatment of Muslims.
China, via its foreign ministry, responded dismissively to the Human Rights Watch report on Monday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English), and rebuked the United Nations human rights chief's requests on Tuesday (transcript in Chinese, transcript in English).
Astana, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Xinjiang, is trying to position itself as a key link in China's One Belt, One Road economic development initiative.
Officials from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said various reports from the region indicate that Muslims are "being treated as enemies of the state exclusively on the basis of their ethno-religious identity".
As many as 13 million Muslims living in the region are increasingly subjected to mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment by the Chinese government, the report noted.
The US followed a report by UN Human Rights panel that China has detained over a million Uygur Muslims in re-education camps also called indoctrination camps.