US President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday slapped travel bans on Chinese officials involved in a brutal crackdown against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in its west. The State Department said it would not issue visas to Chinese government and Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in mass detentions and abuses in western Xinjiang province. It did not identify the targeted officials or say how many were affected by the ban, which can also be applied to their immediate family members.
In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged China to halt its "campaign of repression" in the region, release all those arbitrarily detained and stop trying to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China.
"The protection of human rights is of fundamental importance, and all countries must respect their human rights obligations and commitments," Pompeo said. "The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these abuses."
"The Chinese government has instituted a highly repressive campaign against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang)," he added.
The announcement came a day after the Commerce Department blacklisted Chinese government agencies and a number of Chinese companies that develop facial recognition and another artificial intelligence technology the U.S. says is being used to repress Muslim minorities. The blacklist effectively bars U.S. firms from selling technology to Chinese companies without government approval.
China is estimated to have detained up to 1 million Muslims in prison-like detention centers in the region. The detentions come on top of harsh travel restrictions and a massive surveillance network equipped with facial recognition technology. China has denied committing abuses in the centers and has described them as schools aimed at providing employable skills and combating extremism.
China was also accused of harvesting organs from prosecuted minority groups, during a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in September last week.
Imran Khan has been seeking the world's attention over the situation in Kashmir, alleging people of the Muslim community to be under siege in the region. However, the Pakistan Prime Minister has conveniently ignored the atrocities unleashed by their "all-weather friend" China, on the minority Muslims communities across the country.
The hypocrisy was brought to notice once again during Imran Khan's interview with Al Jazeera on September 12, wherein the Pakistan Prime Minister was questioned if he had a chance to discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping over the issue of systematic persecution of Uighur community.
"No, I haven't," said Imran Khan, adding that the country is drowned in internal issues and claimed that he was unaware of the "problem."
"And frankly, we have been facing so many of our internal problems right now, that I don't really know much about this problem. And since we have been in power for one year, domestically, apart from the economy, and now with Kashmir, we have been inundated with problems. But I will say one thing for China, for us China has been the best friend," he told the international news media organisation.
Imran Khan's credibility over his claims to confront 'Islamophobia' was questioned, over his silence on the treatment of Muslim minority in China. At the UNGA, Imran Khan, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad accouned to establish an English news channel to confront Islamophobia in the West.
UN ambassadors from 37 countries released a letter on July 12 defending China's treatment of Uighur and other minorities in the Xinjiang region, in direct response to Western criticism earlier this week.
(With PTI inputs)