Flattered to be recognised by China for calling out genocidal crimes, says USCIRF Chair
Xinhua/Yan Yan

Taking a jibe at the Chinese government over the issue of rights abuses in Xinjiang, USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin has said he feels flattered to be recognised by "Communist China" for calling out genocidal crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in the country.

"I feel flattered to be recognised by Communist China for calling out genocidal crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in the country," the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair said in a tweet.

"While I don't have plans to travel to China this summer, I won't stop speaking out when egregious violations of religious freedom are taking place as they are in China," said Manchin.

This comes after China on Saturday announced sanctions against American and Canadian officials in charge of religious affairs. This move is retaliation against sanctions imposed by western countries on Chinese officials accused of human rights violation of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

Those targeted by the new sanctions include Gayle Manchin, chairwoman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and its vice-chairman Tony Perkins; Canadian MP Michael Chong and members of the Canadian Commons subcommittee on international human rights, South China Morning Post reported.

Due to the sanctions, the officials are now not allowed to enter mainland China and Hong Kong, Macau, and entities in China are banned from transactions and physical contact with them, according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry, which said the sanctions were designed to fight back against "lies" and "misinformation".

China has launched a series of retaliatory measures following sanctions from Western countries over its Xinjiang policies.

On Friday, China introduced sanctions on nine UK citizens and four entities in response to London's sanctions on Beijing over the issue of human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.

The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the European Union (EU) last Monday to take what they described as "coordinated action" against China to send "a clear message about the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang".

The sanctions blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region -- Zhu Hailun, Wang Junzheng, Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo -- for alleged abuses, which have sparked international outrage. The coordinated move also targeted the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

The sanctions agreed on Monday mark the EU's first punitive measures on Beijing since it imposed an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The dispute has seen a flurry of activity in diplomatic circles, with China and European nations summoning each other's ambassadors to answer for the move and responses to it, according to the South China Morning Post.

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