Following a series of reports claiming that the White House was weighing sanctions against Chinese officials under the "Magnitsky Act", ironically a law passed to target corruption in Russia.
The sanctions affected 4 individuals, and one company.
Here's the statement from Treasury, which is responsible for implementing economic sanctions:
CHEN, Quanguo (Chinese Simplified: 陈全国), Xinjiang, China; DOB 1955; POB Pingyu, Henan, China; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].
HUO, Liujun (Chinese Simplified: 霍留军), Xinjiang, China; DOB 1952; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].
WANG, Mingshan (Chinese Simplified: 王明山), Xinjiang, China; DOB Jan 1964; POB Wuwei, Gansu, China; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].
ZHU, Hailun (Chinese Simplified: 朱海仑), Xinjiang, China; DOB Jan 1958; POB Lianshui, Jiangsu, China; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].
The following entity has been added to OFAC's SDN List:
XINJIANG PUBLIC SECURITY BUREAU (Chinese Simplified: 新疆公安局) (a.k.a. PUBLIC SECURITY DEPARTMENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS REGION; a.k.a. PUBLIC SECURITY DEPARTMENT OF XINJIANG UYGAR AUTONOMOUS REGION; a.k.a. PUBLIC SECURITY DEPARTMENT OF XUAR; a.k.a. XINJIANG BUREAU OF PUBLIC SECURITY), Xinjiang, China [GLOMAG].
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According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the sanctions make the individuals "ineligible" for entry into the US.
The decision will likely provoke a response from Beijing beyond just the angry rhetoric they often employ, as President Xi and top Communist Party officials have specifically denounced American economic sanctions on individuals and Chinese companies as "politically motivated" attempts to undercut the Chinese economy.
Notably, the move follows the UK's decision to use new "Magnitsky" powers adopted by the British government to impose sanctions on individuals involved in "human rights abuses" from Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Myanmar. Those targeted include senior Saudi intelligence officials believed to have been involved in the Khashoggi murder, as well as Russian officials implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Moscow prison after purportedly uncovering a massive fraud.
Both President Xi and President Putin have criticized the US for abusing its sanction powers, claiming that the end result will be more countries shying away from the greenback and using other currencies (the ruble, perhaps. or just straight gold) to store foreign reserves.
One twitter user offered some insight into who these men are. All of them, it seems, are senior CCP officials; one is a chief of police in Xinjiang, where nearly a million Muslims are believed to be held in captivity.
Finally! The US imposes Global Magnitsky sanctions on Xinjiang top leaders for rights abuses: Party Sec Chen Quanguo, Deputy Party Sec Zhu Hailun, Xinjiang Police Party chief Huo Liujun, vice chair of Xinjiang government Wang Mingshan: https://t.co/g8XvxHWDIb pic.twitter.com/IA7cxETLiT— Maya Wang 王松莲 (@wang_maya) July 9, 2020
Sec Chen is being cited as the biggest name on the list, since he's the senior CCP official in Xinjiang.
#Xinjiang's CCP chief Chen Quanguo officially on Treasury's sanction list. Chen is a member of the 25-strong CCP Politburo. His rank is higher than say Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Chen is technically young enuf to contend for one of the 7 PBSC seats in 2022.https://t.co/YUfPqIlglB— Jun Mai (@Junmai1103) July 9, 2020
The decision comes two days after FBI director Christopher Wray revealed that half of the bureau's investigations involved Chinese entities. The FBI director, who has taken flack for not kowtowing to Trump, also described China as America's "greatest threat".