Uighur Muslims that are a Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia are recognized by China as regional minority. Since, the Uighurs have been recognized as native to only one region i.e. the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, many of the Chinese officials do not recognize them as indigenous groups.
Being historically controlled by many civilizations including China, these minorities have suffered a lot. As of now mass crackdowns against these minorities has become common in China.
In an attempt to halt the growing violence against Uighur Muslims, State Secretary Mike Pompeo announced that the Chinese Communist Party officials involved in oppressing and abusing the Uighur Muslims are now barred from entering the US. Not only that, the rules would also impose strict restrictions on their family members as well.
The State Department’s visa restrictions plan is the recent act of the government’s stance against China’s violence as it believes in following the equal rights policy for all humans.
The act of China’s oppression on Uighurs be it their detention in “reeducation camps” or violation of their rights and interests, keeping them in high-tech surveillance; draconian controls on expressions of cultural and religious identities; and coercion of individuals to return from abroad to an often perilous fate in China has been largely condemned by the US government.
Pompeo said, “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.”
He added, “The protection of human rights is of fundamental importance, and all countries must respect their human rights obligations and commitments.”
In the wake of the US-China trade war that has already worsened the bilateral relations between both the countries, the announcement came as a huge blow to the Chinese government. It came after a Commerce Department announced the barring of 28 Chinese companies from purchasing US technology, saving the traditional Uighur home of Xinjiang, which China planned to develop into a high-tech surveillance state.
While the government is very clear in outlining its strategies, standing against the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China, the Chinese officials believe the move to be largely unfair, calling it a hindrance to their right to freedom of movement. Furthermore, with the imposed restrictions these officials would also not be allowed to meet their family members present in the US.
China claimed that Xinjiang affairs of their treatment of Uighur Muslims are purely its internal affairs and they would not allow any foreign interference in the matter.
Though many officials have favored the government for its brave move, the concerns of it affecting the future trade war negotiations cannot be neglected. With growing burdens from the US, there are chances that North Korea that has recently celebrated 70 years of an “invincible friendship” with China could come to its aid.