Press release

United States: Freedom House Applauds Decision to Sanction Chinese Officials Involved in Xinjiang Abuses, Urges Stronger Measures

The US government should take additional action against human rights abuses in Xinjiang.


In response to the US government’s decision to block visas for Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses in the Uighur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, and to restrict US exports to Chinese entities implicated in such violations, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“We applaud the US government’s decision to take action over the Chinese government’s horrific human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uighur ​Autonomous Region,” said Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “The abuses occurring in Xinjiang are some of the worst in the world, and are extreme violations of China’s own constitution and international commitments. We urge the US government to impose additional financial sanctions on the individuals responsible for these abuses, and expand export restrictions to a greater number of entities involved in surveillance of dissidents and religious believers throughout China. The Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly brazen behavior—from the ongoing detention of more than one million Uighurs, to the bullying of international companies that don’t comply with China’s view of the world, to the hubris of telling the American people appropriate parameters for free speech, as in the recent NBA debacle—cannot be left unaddressed by the international community. We welcome these actions by the US government as a step in the right direction.”


On October 7, 2019, the US Commerce Department announced it would “constrict the export of items” to 28 Chinese companies and government entities “that have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in China’s campaign targeting Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.”

On October 8, 2019, the US State Department announced it was imposing visa restrictions on Chinese officials, and on family members of these officials, who are “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China.”

The government of China has detained between one and three million Uighurs—an ethnic and religious minority living in northwestern China—in detention camps where they are reportedly subject to mistreatment and torture. China has said these camps are intended to reeducate Muslim extremists and that many detainees have been released, a claim relatives of those imprisoned have refuted.

China is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2018. Freedom House has also tracked China’s repression of the Uighur minority in its China Media Bulletin.