China warns US it will ‘strike back’ for ‘reckless’ sanctions

Warning comes after US imposed sweeping human rights-related sanctions on Chinese individuals and entities, including artificial intelligence company SenseTime.

Wang Wenbin
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin denounced the latest US sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities as 'perverse actions' [File: Greg Baker/AFP]

China has warned the United States that it would “strike back” in response to any “reckless” actions, urging Washington to withdraw its recent passing of sanctions targeting people and entities tied to human rights abuses committed by Beijing.

The United States imposed sweeping human rights-related sanctions on Friday against Chinese individuals and entities, adding individuals and entities tied to Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin denounced the sanctions as “perverse actions”.

“We urge the US to immediately withdraw the relevant wrong decision and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s interests.

“If the US acts recklessly, China will take effective measures to strike back resolutely,” Wang said during a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

The measures are the latest in a raft of sanctions timed to coincide with Biden’s two-day virtual Summit for Democracy, where he announced initiatives to bolster democracy around the world and support for pro-democracy legislation in the United States.

On Monday, Wang vowed that Beijing “is unwavering in its determination to defend national sovereignty, security, and development interests”.

He also defended China’s policy in dealing with the Muslim Uighur community in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, saying it is determined “to combat violence, terrorism, separatism, and religious extremist forces”.

“The perverse actions of the United States cannot destroy the overall shape of Xinjiang’s development, stop China’s progress, or reverse the trend of historical development.”

Among those targeted by the US Treasury for sanctions was the Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime, accusing it of having developed facial recognition programmes that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uighurs.

‘Mass detention’ in Xinjiang

UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained or imprisoned in recent years in a vast system of camps in Xinjiang.

On Thursday, an unofficial and independent UK-based tribunal also ruled that the Chinese government committed genocide, crimes against humanity and torture against Uighurs and other minorities.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the head of the Uighur Tribunal and prominent human rights lawyer, said the Chinese government has targeted the Muslim Uighur population with forced birth control and sterilisation policies to reduce the group’s population.

He said that “this vast apparatus of state repression could not exist if a plan was not authorised at the highest levels”.

UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained or imprisoned in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, but the US government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.

Meanwhile, Wang also launched criticised the recent Summit for Democracy hosted by the US, saying Washington cannot decide whether a country is democratic or not with its own yardstick.

“The Summit for Democracy exactly betrayed US true nature as a destroyer of democracy while stripping it of its disguise as a defender of democracy,” Wang said.

Wang called on all the countries to work together to tackle global issues to press ahead with the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

He also denounced the sanctions directed at the company SenseTime, saying the decision was “based on lies and false information”.

On Monday, the startup said it was postponing a $767m initial public offering in Hong Kong after it was blacklisted by the US over accusations of genocide in Xinjiang.

A blacklisting would make it all but impossible for US investment banks usually involved in Hong Kong listings to get involved, or for a US national to invest in the offering.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies