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U.S. punishes senior Chinese officials over Uighur rights

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Fu Cong, head of the arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the negotiation with former Cold War-era superpowers, given that the us nuclear arsenal is about 20 times the size of China's.

"The sanctions are unlikely to have any practical impact on the Chinese officials, as they undoubtedly have the bulk of their wealth in domestic assets, yet by targeting China's senior-most officials, the sending an extraordinarily strong signal to Beijing", he said.

The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on senior Chinese officials as it demanded an end to "horrific" abuses against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.

Sanctions were also imposed on Zhu Hailun, deputy secretary of the regional legislative body, the Xinjiang's People's Congress; Wang Mingshan, the director and Communist Party secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau; and the former party secretary of the bureau, Huo Liujun.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was also imposing further visa restrictions on Chen, Zhu, and Wang, as well as on other unnamed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, barring them and their immediate family from the United States.

China issued a stinging response to a U.S. statement Thursday that welcomed Beijing's willingness to engage in arms control talks. He is seen as the architect of Beijing's policies against minorities.

Peter Harrell, a former US official and sanctions expert at the Center for a New American Security, said Thursday's move may signal a continued shift of "paying more attention to human rights abuses in China. after several years of relative neglect".

The latest Chinese response followed a USA announcement of visa bans and an assets freeze on three officials, including Chen Quanquo, the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang and architect of Beijing's hardline policies against restive minorities.

These sanctions mean that they are barred from entering the USA and will have US-based assets frozen. Critics accuse the government of severe rights abuses in Xinjiang, with invasive surveillance, mass extrajudicial detentions, forced sterilization and abortions and mandatory birth control. As a result of the USA move, they and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into America.

Rights groups say up to a million Muslims have been detained in high-security prison camps across Xinjiang province.

Trump said in an interview last month he had held off on tougher sanctions on China over Uighur human rights because of concerns that such measures would have interfered in trade negotiations with Beijing.

The same documents showed inmates can be released only when they "understand deeply the illegal, criminal and unsafe nature of their past activity". In May, the Commerce Department put "24 governmental and commercial organizations to the Entity List for engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States".