China bans top US lawmakers with sanctions on Xinjiang

China on Monday imposed retaliatory sanctions on three senior Republican lawmakers and an American ambassador in the western Xinjiang region over Beijing's dealings with Uyghurs.

China's most vocal critics - Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as well as Congressman Chris Smith - have been targeted along with U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

Several Chinese officials, including Chen Kwanggo, the leader of the Communist Party in Xinjiang, were issued unspecified "relevant sanctions" just days after the U.S. visa restrictions and property freeze.

State Department spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a brief briefing that the move was "a response to the atrocities committed by the United States."

"We urge the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision and intervene in China's internal affairs and to stop using words and actions that could harm China's interests," he said.

"China will respond more based on the development of the situation."

The ban also applies to the US Congress-Executive Commission on China, the Asian human rights watchdog agency.

President Donald Trump has traded both sanctions and sanctions, ranging from trade to the coronavirus epidemic, security law in Hong Kong, and China policies in western Tibet and Xinjiang.

- 'Terrible' abuse -

Witnesses and human rights groups say China has surrounded more than tens of millions of Uyghurs and other Ottoman Muslims in Xinjiang with the aim of forcibly punishing minorities in the country's majority.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the United States was working against "terrible and systemic abuse" in the West, including forced labor, mass hostages, and involuntary population control.

China has denied the allegations but acknowledged that Uyghur was sent to "vocational training centers" and sought to learn Mandarin and job skills to stay away from terrorism and separatism following deadly violence in the region.

Hua said on Monday, "I must say that the Xinjiang cases are purely China's internal affairs. The United States has no right or basis to interfere."

"China is unstable in its determination to fight violence and terrorism, separatism and religious extremism," Hua said.

"Its determination to prevent any external military interference in Xinjiang affairs and China's internal affairs is also inseparable."

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