US Imposes Visa Restrictions on Chinese Officials Over Abuse of Muslim Minorities in Xinjiang

By Reuters
October 8, 2019 Updated: October 8, 2019

WASHINGTON—The United States has imposed visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials it believes responsible for the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, the U.S. State Department said on Oct. 8.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited the decision of the Commerce Department on Oct. 7 to add 28 Chinese public security bureaus and companies—including video surveillance company Hikvision—on a U.S. trade blacklist over Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. The visa restrictions “complement” the Commerce Department actions, he said.

U.S. officials previously said the Trump administration was considering sanctions against officials linked to China’s persecution of Muslims. One such official is Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who, as a member of the powerful politburo, is in the upper echelons of China’s leadership.

The State Department announcement didn’t name the officials subject to the visa restrictions.

“The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate,” Pompeo said.

Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton praised the State Department announcement and urged U.S. allies to follow suit. Chinese “officials who place Uyghurs and other minority groups in concentration camps shouldn’t be allowed to visit the United States and enjoy our freedoms.”

Those added by the Commerce Department to the “Entity List” include the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region People’s Government Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate government agencies, and eight commercial firms, according to a Commerce Department filing.

The companies include some of China’s leading artificial intelligence firms such as SenseTime Group Ltd., and Megvii Technology Ltd., which is backed by Alibaba, as well as Hikvision, formally known as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd., Zhejiang Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK Co., Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co., and Yixin Science and Technology Co.

By Eric Beech and David Shepardson