Updated Mar 28, 2021 - World

Blinken slams China over retaliatory sanctions on U.S. and Canadian officials

Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state, speaks during a news conference in the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, March 24
Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday. Photo: Martin Bertrand/Pool/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday night denounced retaliatory sanctions imposed by China on American and Canadian officials as "baseless."

Why it matters: In an escalating feud over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China announced sanctions earlier Saturday on officials including USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin, wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and USCIRF vice chair Tony Perkins.

  • Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Chong and the Subcommittee on International Human Rights in Canada's House of Commons were also sanctioned — days after the U.S., U.K., European Union and Canada penalized Chinese officials deemed responsible for abuses in Xinjiang.
  • The State Department and several legislative bodies have recognized the abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities as genocide.

What they're saying: Blinken said in an emailed statement that the U.S. "condemns" China's "baseless sanctions" on the officials, noting these were "apparently in retaliation for U.S. sanctions" on Chinese officials "connected with serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang.

  • "Beijing's attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms only contribute to the growing international scrutiny of the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang," he added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Saturday, "China’s sanctions are an attack on transparency and freedom of expression — values at the heart of our democracy.

  • "We stand with Parliamentarians against these unacceptable actions, and we will continue to defend human rights around the world with our international partners."

The big picture: China also retaliated against the EU on Monday, sanctioning 10 Europeans, according to Reuters.

Go deeper: UN report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Blinken's comments.

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