The United States on Tuesday stepped up pressure on China over its alleged abuses of Muslim minority groups in the country, announcing new visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials believed to be playing a part in state repression.
The move followed a U.S. announcement a day earlier adding 28 Chinese entities, including major video surveillance company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., to its trade blacklist. The action comes at a sensitive time as the two countries plan to hold ministerial-level trade talks later in the week.
The visa restrictions "complement" Monday's announcement of export restrictions for U.S. products to the Chinese entities, which have been involved in "China's campaign of surveillance, detention, and repression" of Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region, the U.S. State Department said.
(People walk at a bazaar in Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern China, on July 5, 2019.)
It was not immediately clear which individual officials would be subject to the visa restrictions.
China's Foreign Ministry has urged the United States to reverse its decision to blacklist Chinese organizations and stop interfering in China's internal affairs.
The spat over human rights issues may cast a shadow over the upcoming ministerial-level trade talks in Washington, which are scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Roughly 10 million Uyghurs live in China, mainly in the far-western Xinjiang autonomous region. Beijing has been criticized for its treatment of the majority-Muslim group, including sending large numbers to mass detention camps that it calls vocational training centers as a way to preemptively fight terrorism.