In the latest escalation of the ongoing trade war with China, the Trump administration on Tuesday put visa restrictions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.
The U.S. State Department said officials “who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention and abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups” in the Xinjiang, which is in northwestern China.
The move came shortly after the U.S. blacklisted 28 Chinese companies from business with U.S. companies because of the abuses, and the news sent stock markets reeling near the end of the trading day on Tuesday. The Dow fell 1.2%, the S&P 500 dipped 1.6% and the Nasdaq tanked 1.7%, all just before 3 p.m.
“The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a statement.
The move brought a swift rebuke from China, with its Minister of Commerce saying he “strongly urges” the U.S. not to talk about the country’s domestic issues.
“We strongly urge the U.S. to immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on the issue of Xinjiang and to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and remove relevant Chinese entities from the list of entities as soon as possible,” a spokesperson from the ministry said in a statement.
“China will also take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard China’s own interests.”
The latest punches come as the two sides prepare to meet for trade talks this week to try and negotiate a trade deal, which seems less and less likely after every blow thrown.
In fact, Global Times Editor In Chief Hu Xijin said China now has low expectations of a breakthrough, which will likely send markets downward the rest of the week. The Global Times is of course a division of the country’s state-run newspaper of the communist party.
I can feel that Chinese society has low expectation for real breakthrough in the new round of trade talks. Most people think alternate trade war/trade talks will be a normal thing between China&the US. Plus,people widely think the Trump administration can’t honor its commitments.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) October 8, 2019