Published:  12:36 AM, 13 September 2018

US concerns over China's Muslim crackdown

US concerns over China's Muslim crackdown

The US State Department on Tuesday expressed deep concern over China's "worsening crackdown" on minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region, as the Trump administration considered sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies linked to allegations of human rights abuses.

Discussions have gained momentum within the US government over possible economic penalties in response to reports of mass detentions of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims, US congressional sources said. 

Any sanctions decision would be a rare move on human rights grounds by the Trump administration against China, with which it is engaged in a trade war while also seeking Beijing's help to resolve a standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons.

A US official said the idea of sanctions was still in the discussion stage, and one of the congressional sources said a decision did not appear to be imminent.

"We're deeply troubled by the worsening crackdown, not just on Uighurs (but also) Kazakhs, other Muslims in that region of China," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing, renewing concerns expressed in recent months by top administration officials.

Nauert acknowledged that the State Department had received a letter from a bipartisan group of US lawmakers at the end of August asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials accused of overseeing the policies.

-Reuters, Washington

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