China Bars Four From U.S. Panel on Religious Freedom in Response to Sanctions

BEIJING (Reuters) -
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends an event commemorating the 110th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 9, 2021.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

China has barred entry to four people from a U.S. commission on religious freedom, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, following U.S. sanctions this month against Chinese people and entities over accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The four people, from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), would be banned from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. Their assets in China would also be frozen and Chinese institutions and citizens would be forbidden from dealing with them, Zhao said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

The USCIRF did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The United States said that its Dec. 10 sanctions were in response to human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, where Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are alleged to have been unlawfully detained, mistreated and forced to work. China denies abuses in Xinjiang and says its policies there help combat extremism.

The USCIRF is a federal government entity which evaluates and suggests policies for countries where religious freedom is deemed to be endangered.

The chair, vice chair and two commissioners at USCIRF would be barred entry, Zhao said.