US weighs sanctions amid concern over China's Muslim crackdown

Riders compete for a goat carcass during a Buzkashi game in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China earlier this month

Riders compete for a goat carcass during a Buzkashi game in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China earlier this month

The Republicans wrote that they are "concerned about the ongoing human rights crisis in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Muslim ethnic minorities are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restriction on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored".

The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies in response to Beijing's detention of one million ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in indoctrination camps.

"We have a lot of tools at our disposal", she told reporters.

Towards the end of the last month, a group of USA lawmakers asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese officials, including Chen Quanguo, the Communist party chief in Xinjiang, saying he had overseen the crackdown.

"The Chinese government protects people's freedom of religion and people of all ethnic groups are fully entitled to freedom of religion".

-Chinese relations have experienced ups and downs throughout the Trump presidency so far, as President Donald Trump threatens to impose billions in tariffs on Chinese goods, but the administration has stayed fairly quiet on human rights issues.

In the report, HRW documents the increasing government control over the 13 million Muslims living in Xinjiang.

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In the camps, the Uighurs are reportedly forced to learn Mandarin Chinese, espouse the Communist party and denounce Islam.

Punishments for refusing to follow instructions in the camp could mean being denied food, being forced to stand for 24 hours or even solitary confinement, it said.

Reports had been received of "patterns of human rights violations in other regions", added Bachelet, a former Chilean president, calling for Beijing to permit access for her staff across China, saying she expected discussions to start soon.

Michelle Bachelet decried China's ongoing crackdown on the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in her first remarks as head of the United Nations rights watchdog in Geneva on Monday.

The official said the situation facing the Uighurs was a "tremendous concern of the United States Government".

Astana, which shares a 1,000-kilometer border with Xinjiang, is trying to position itself as a key link in China's One Belt, One Road economic development initiative.

Available information suggests that Uyghurs may be subject to the harshest treatment at the hands of Xinjiang authorities, HRW writes, saying that since its report draws heavily on testimony from ethnic Kazakhs who have left the region, it is hard to assess the "full extent of the repressive policies in Xinjiang, particularly those directed at Uyghurs".

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