(OFFICIAL)--U.S. mulling measures against those behind abuses in China's Xinjiang
(Corrects to reflect that spokesman said he misspoke when he
said sanctions, rather than measures)
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - The United States is
considering measures against those responsible for human rights
violations against Muslims in China's Xinjiang region, a U.S.
State Department spokesman said on Thursday, calling it a "great
shame for humanity."
"We are committed to promoting accountability for those who
are committing these violations and considering targeted
sanctions as well, targeted measures, as well," spokesman Robert
Palladino told reporters at a regular briefing.
Palladino later said he misspoke when he said sanctions. He
did not elaborate on what he meant by targeted measures.
"We will continue to call on China to end these policies and
to free these people who have been arbitrarily detained," he
Palladino said he echoed Turkey's description of the
Xinjiang situation, in calling it a "great shame for humanity."
Palladino spoke after China hit back on Thursday in
unusually strong terms at U.S. State Department criticisms of
its Xinjiang policies.
In announcing the U.S. State Department's annual "Country
Reports on Human Rights Practices" on Wednesday, its top human
rights official said the abuses in Xinjiang were of a kind not
seen since the 1930s and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said
China was "in a league of its own when it comes to human rights
U.S. officials have said the Trump administration was
considering sanctions targeting companies and officials linked
to China's crackdown, including Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen
Quanguo, who, as a member of the powerful politburo, is in the
upper echelons of China's leadership.
China has roundly rejected concern about its policies in
Xinjiang, where rights groups say the government is operating
internment camps holding a million or more Muslims. China says
they are vocational training centers aimed at de-radicalization.
It has warned of retaliation if Washington were to target
Chen and the U.S. administration has yet to act despite
complaints about its lack of action from U.S. lawmakers.
Any sanctions decision against so senior an official as Chen
would be a rare move on human rights grounds against China by
the Trump administration, which is engaged in closely-watched
talks with Beijing to try to resolve a trade war.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said earlier on
Thursday that the U.S. human rights report was as usual filled
with "ideological prejudice" and groundless accusations. He said
China had lodged a complaint with Washington about it.
Lu said China fully safeguards human rights and that the
United States should take a hard look at its own domestic human
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Lesley Wroughton and Matt
Spetalnick; Writing by David Alexander and David Brunnstrom;
Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Tom Brown)
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