WASHINGTON, China will retaliate “in proportion” if the United States sanctions its top official in the restive region of Xinjiang over alleged human rights abuses, China’s ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday, adding that Beijing’s policies in the region are to “re-educate” terrorists.
Chinese Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai told Reuters in an interview that China’s efforts to combat international terrorism are held to a double standard, comparing Chinese actions in Xinjiang to U.S. troops battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“Can you imagine (if) some American officials in charge of the fight against ISIS would be sanctioned?” Cui said, adding “if such actions are taken, we have to retaliate.”
Cui did not elaborate on specific actions China might take.
Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, academics, foreign governments and U.N. rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang.
In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that a million or more Uighurs in China are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”
U.S. officials have said the Trump administration is considering sanctions targeting companies and officials linked to China’s crackdown on minority Muslims, including Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who, as a member of the powerful politburo, is in the upper echelons of China’s leadership.
Cui said that while the United States was using missiles and drones to kill terrorists, “we are trying to re-educate most of them, trying to turn them into normal persons (who) can go back to normal life,” Cui said.
“We’ll see what will happen. We will do everything in proportion,” he said, responding to a question on how China would retaliate to possible U.S. sanctions on Chen.
Cui’s comments are the strongest response yet to U.S. threats on the issue.
Any such U.S. sanctions decision against so senior an official as Chen would be a rare move on human rights grounds by the Trump administration, which is engaged in a trade war with China while also seeking Beijing’s help to resolve a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Source: Voice of America