Secretary of State Antony Blinken blasted China's retaliatory sanctions imposed on select US and Canadian officials on Saturday. China's tit-for-tat move was fully expected given Beijing's anger and prior threats over the coordinated sanctions out of Western allies the US, UK, EU and Canada on Monday over the human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
"The United States condemns the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) baseless sanctions on two US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commissioners apparently in retaliation for US sanctions on PRC officials connected with serious human rights abuse in Xinjiang," Blinken said.
"Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang," he added.
Among the US officials hit with a travel ban for China, Hong Kong or Macau - as well as being prohibited from doing business with Chinese citizens or businesses - included the wife of senior senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin.
Gayle Manchin chairs the Commission on International Religious Freedom. She was targeted by China's punitive measures along with USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins for their outspokenness on highlighting the Uighur issue and pushing for action.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also reacted Saturday, slamming the sanctions as "an attack on transparency and freedom of expression."
"We stand with Parliamentarians against these unacceptable actions, and we will continue to defend human rights around the world with our international partners," he said on Twitter.
China’s sanctions are an attack on transparency and freedom of expression - values at the heart of our democracy. We stand with Parliamentarians against these unacceptable actions, and we will continue to defend human rights around the world with our international partners. https://t.co/gtMleSAaEd— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 27, 2021
The Canadians targeted include Michael Chong, vice chair of the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE), and eight members of its Subcommittee on International Human Rights.
In naming the sanctioned individuals on Saturday, China's Foreign Ministry urged the US and its allies to "stop political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues, stop interfering in China's internal affairs in any form." The statement added threateningly, "Otherwise, they will get their fingers burnt."