By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. on Tuesday imposed restrictions on top Chinese officials for Beijing's "highly repressive campaign against Uighurs" and other predominantly-Muslim minority groups in China.
The action comes one day after the U.S. added dozens of Chinese entities to a trading blacklist for their alleged involvement in a crackdown on ethnic Uighurs in China’s autonomous Xinjiang province.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the visa bans are being instituted because Beijing has undertaken a campaign in that region that "includes mass detentions in internment camps; pervasive, high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities; and coercion of individuals to return from abroad to an often perilous fate in China."
Those affected include Chinese government and Communist Party officials the U.S. believes to be responsible for or complicit in abuses against Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minority groups.
The top diplomat's statement did not identify any individuals by name.
"The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate," Pompeo said.
The U.S. Commerce Department announced Monday it blacklisted 28 entities accused of involvement in the crackdown.
The affected entities include such firms as Dahua Technology, Hikvision and Megvii Technology which produce video surveillance gear and technology to identify individuals through facial recognition.
The list also includes several regional government agencies. By being placed on the “entity list”, the firms are barred from buying products from American companies without Washington's approval.
As many as 1 million people, or about 7% of Xinjiang’s Muslim population, have been incarcerated in a sprawling network of "political re-education" camps, according to U.S. and UN studies.
Last September, the New York-based campaign group Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Beijing of a "systematic campaign of human rights violations" against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Beijing says that its camps in Xinjiang are "vocational training centers.” China and the U.S. are in the throes of a trade war, which has seen both sides slap tariffs on imports and attempt several rounds of negotiations.