Los Angeles-based Kharon reported on human rights abuses committed against China’s Uighurs and other Muslim minorities
China has placed sanctions on a United States research company that monitors human rights in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
China announced late on Tuesday that Los Angeles-based research and data analytics firm Kharon and its two lead analysts are now barred from entry. The company has reported extensively on claims that Beijing is committing human rights abuses against Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups.
Director of investigations Edmund Xu and Nicole Morgret, a human rights analyst affiliated with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, were named as the two barred analysts in a statement published by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning.
Any assets or property owned by the company or individuals in China will be frozen. Organisations and individuals in China are prohibited from conducting transactions or otherwise cooperating with them.
The statement said that the sanctions were retaliation for Kharon’s contribution to a US government report on human rights in Xinjiang.
Uighurs and other natives of the region share religious, linguistic and cultural links with the scattered peoples of Central Asia and have long resented the Chinese Communist Party’s heavy-handed control and attempts to assimilate them with the majority Han ethnic group.
In a paper published in June 2022, Morgret wrote: “The Chinese government is undertaking a concerted drive to industrialise the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), which has led an increasing number of corporations to establish manufacturing operations there.”
“This centrally-controlled industrial policy is a key tool in the government’s efforts to forcibly assimilate Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples through the institution of a coerced labor regime,” she added.
Such reports draw from a wide range of sources including independent media, non-governmental organisations and groups that may receive commercial and governmental grants or other outside funding.
China has long denied allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, saying the large-scale network of prison-like facilities through which hundreds of thousands of Muslim citizens have passed were intended only to rid them of violent, extremist tendencies and teach them job skills.
Former inmates describe harsh conditions imposed without legal process and demands that they denounce their culture and sing the praises of President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party daily.
China says the camps are all now closed, but many of their former inmates have reportedly been given lengthy prison sentences elsewhere. Access to the region by journalists, diplomats and others is tightly controlled, as is movement outside the region by Uighurs, Kazaks and other Muslim minorities.
“By issuing the report, the United States once again spread false stories on Xinjiang and illegally sanctioned Chinese officials and companies citing so-called human rights issues,” Mao was quoted as saying.
“If the United States refuses to change course, China will not flinch and will respond in kind,” Mao was quoted as telling reporters at an earlier news briefing.
The US has imposed visa bans and a wide range of other sanctions on dozens of officials from China and the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, including the country’s former defence minister, who disappeared under circumstances China has yet to explain.
China’s foreign minister also was replaced this year with no word on his fate, fuelling speculation that party leader and head of state for life Xi is carrying out a purge of officials suspected of collaborating with foreign governments or simply showing insufficient loyalty to China’s most authoritarian leader since Mao Zedong.
It is not immediately clear what degree of connection Xu or Morgret, if any, they had with the US government.