WASHINGTON — The United States announced Tuesday it will restrict visas to Chinese officials over human rights violations against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province.
The move comes a day after the blacklisting of 28 Chinese governmental and commercial organizations on similar grounds.
The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. said the moves seriously violate "the basic norms governing international relations," and accused Washington of using human rights as "merely made-up pretexts for its interference" in Beijing's internal affairs.
"Xinjiang does not have the so-called human rights issue claimed by the US," the embassy said on Twitter, adding that "the counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang are aimed to eradicate the breeding soil of extremism and terrorism."
"We urge the US to correct its mistakes at once and stop its interference in China's internal affairs," it added.
More than 1 million members of Muslim minority groups, including Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnicities, have been placed in Chinese interment camps, according to human rights groups and U.S. officials.
In announcing the visa limits, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed a range of alleged abuses, including "mass detentions in internment camps (… and) draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities."
He also noted pervasive surveillance using advanced technologies and called on China "to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang."
The State Department did not immediately list which Chinese officials would face problems entering the U.S.
The visa restrictions come a day after the Department of Commerce added 28 companies to a list of entities posing a risk to national security or foreign policy interests.
The announcement was made hours after the White House said Washington would resume high-level trade talks with Beijing later this week amid a yearlong trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
U.S. and Chinese trade delegations are still due to meet later this week for key talks to break impasses in the tit-for-tat tariff escalations, but expectations have increasingly been dimmed, as sources of tensions between the two economies mount.
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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Mike Pompeo