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China bars four from US panel on religious freedom in response to sanctions

China bars four from US panel on religious freedom in response to sanctions

The flags of the United States and China fly from a lamppost in the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, US, Nov 1, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)

BEIJING: China has barred entry to four people from a US commission on religious freedom, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday (Dec 21), following US sanctions this month against Chinese people and entities over accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The chair, vice chair and two commissioners from the US 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.

Source: Reuters/yb

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