Beijing threatens consequences over 'malicious' US Uighur law

China counters that it is running vocational educational centres that offer an alternative to Islamic extremism. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing on Thursday (June 18) slammed a new US law that would sanction Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, saying it "maliciously attacks" China's policy in the Xinjiang region.

China will "resolutely hit back and the US will bear the burden of all subsequent consequences", the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement after US President Donald Trump signed the Uighur Human Rights Act into law on Wednesday.

The legislation, which passed Congress almost unanimously, requires the US administration to freeze assets of Chinese officials who are responsible for the "arbitrary detention, torture and harassment" of Uighurs and other minorities, and ban their entry into the US.

China's foreign ministry said in a statement that the act "rudely interferes in China's internal affairs", and urged the US to "immediately correct its mistakes".

"This so-called act deliberately slanders the human rights situation in Xinjiang and maliciously attacks China's policy in governing Xinjiang," the ministry said.

Activists say China has rounded up at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims and is trying to forcibly assimilate them by wiping out their culture and punishing basic Islamic practices.

Beijing counters that it is running vocational educational centres that offer an alternative to Islamic extremism.

In January, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying criticised the US legislature for approving a Bill that could encourage "forces seeking Tibet independence". The Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 - passed almost unanimously by the US House of Representatives - requires the US government to reject any applications from Beijing to set up a consulate on American soil so long as the Chinese government forbids the US from building its own diplomatic station in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, according to the South China Morning Post. The legislation also paved the way for sanctions against Chinese officials who meddle in Dalai Lama's succession.

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