China places new sanctions against U.S., Canadian officials over feud concerning Xinjiang

China on Saturday announced new sanctions against U.S. and Canadian officials in a growing political and economic feud over its policies in the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the head of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Manchin, would be barred from visiting mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, and having any dealings with Chinese financial entities.

The commission’s vice chair, Tony Perkins, was also included on the sanctions list, along with Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Chong and the body’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights.

China has strongly rejected accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and has launched calls for boycotts and other punishments against foreign firms including retailer H&M and Nike, along with sanctions against foreign government officials and activists whom it says are spreading false information about its policies toward Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.

“They must stop political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in any form and refrain from going further down the wrong path. Otherwise, they will get their fingers burnt,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

China announced sanctions Friday against British officials and H&M products were dropped from Chinese websites over their opposition to buying cotton from Xinjiang. The ruling Communist Party’s Youth League launched attacks Wednesday on H&M following the European Union’s decision to join the United States, Britain and Canada in imposing sanctions on Chinese officials blamed for abuses in Xinjiang.

More than 1 million members of the Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been confined to detention camps in Xinjiang, according to foreign governments and researchers. Authorities there are accused of imposing forced labor and coercive birth control measures.

The Chinese government rejects complaints of abuses and says the camps are for job training to support economic development and combat Islamic radicalism.

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Source: Associated Press