Blinken: Sanctions Imposed on Communist Party Officials for Human Rights Violations, Including Family Members

The U.S. State Department released its 2020 Annual Human Rights Report on March 30, covering China. The State Department said it has joined the United Kingdom and Canada in imposing economic and visa sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials and their families, and that the United States will continue to work with the international community to speak out for human rights.

The U.S. State Department’s newly released Annual Human Rights Report 2020 focuses on the persecution of Falun Gong in China and the suppression of human rights lawyers, Xinjiang Uighurs and other religious believers, and human rights activists. The report also finds that the Chinese Communist Party has committed mass extermination and Crimes Against Humanity in Xinjiang.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a briefing on the report, “President Biden‘s commitment to putting human rights back at the center of U.S. foreign policy is a commitment the State Department takes very seriously. We will use all of our diplomatic tools to defend human rights and hold those who violate them accountable.”

Report Focuses on Persecution of Falun Gong and Other Groups

The section of the report dealing with China is much the same as the 2019 report and continues to focus on arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture by the CCP government, its prisons or incarceration in conditions so harsh as to threaten lives …… and the CCP’s use of administrative detention to intimidate political and religious advocates and to prevent public protests.

Administrative detentions took the form of “detention and training” and “legal centers” for political activists and religious believers, particularly for Falun Gong practitioners.

Bian Lichao, a Falun Gong practitioner in Tangshan City, Hebei Province, remained in detention, according to the report. Bian Lichao was sentenced by the CCP to 12 years in prison.

The report also focuses on the crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang, Tibet, Catholics, and Hong Kong residents.

The report said, “During the year, mass extermination and crimes against humanity occurred in Xinjiang, primarily against Uighur Muslims, as well as other ethnic and religious minorities.” “These crimes continue to be committed …….”

The report also states that according to survivors of the detention camps, law enforcement officials and officials in the penal system and working in the camps systematically subjected detainees to torture and other humiliating acts, including administering electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings, rape, forced prostitution and forced birth control.

The report also cited the development of artificial intelligence recognition technology by technology companies such as huawei to send “Uyghur alerts” to the Chinese Communist Party to help it quickly identify members of the Uyghur and other minority groups.

According to the report, Human Rights Watch said the CCP’s Ministry of State Security worked with information technology companies to create a “mass automated voice recognition and surveillance system” that not only recognizes Tibetan and Uyghur, but also stores biometric data such as fingerprints and DNA.

Report Focuses on Human Rights Lawyers and Dissidents

The report also mentions reprisals against dissidents, suppression of freedom of expression of the press, lawyers and other political dissidents, mass surveillance, forced labor, and banning workers from joining labor organizations or unions.

The report notes that four citizen journalists, including Chen Qiushi, Li Zehua, Zhang Zhan and Fang Bin, were forcibly disappeared and convicted for reporting the truth about the Epidemic.

Several Chinese human rights lawyers, including Gao Zhisheng, Ding Jiaxi, Zhang Wuzhou, Yu Wensheng, Chang Weiping, and Li Yuxuan, were illegally detained, forced to travel, tortured to extract confessions, and abused, and denied the right to appeal and to meet with lawyers.

The report stated that the CCP suspended or revoked the business licenses or bar licenses of lawyers who represented sensitive cases, such as those of democratic dissidents, house church activists, Falun Gong practitioners, or government critics.

In May, authorities in Nanning, Guangxi, secretly arraigned attorney Qin Yongpei and did not allow his defense attorney to participate. In August, the Hunan Provincial Department of Justice revoked the license of human rights lawyer Xie Yang for inciting subversion of state power in 2017. Xie is a detained lawyer in the “709” case.

The report also mentions several detained Chinese political prisoners and activists, such as Guo Feixiong, Xu Zhiyong, Uyghur scholars Ilham Tohti and Rahile Dawut, activists Wang Bingzhang, Chen Jianfang and Huang Qi, priests Zhang Shaojie and Wang Yi, and Shanghai Catholic priest Ma Daqin.

In addition, the report said that Chinese Communist authorities routinely increased surveillance, wiretapping and other forms of harassment and threats against former political prisoners and their families. The report said that the CCP judiciary does not exercise judicial power independently, although the law provides that the judiciary is free from interference by the executive branch, social organizations and individuals.

In terms of freedom of expression, the report noted the CCP’s complete control of public and private speech about the outbreak, with strict Internet censorship of speech involving the CCP virus from Dec. 31, 2019, to 2020, and the detention of doctors who issued warnings, including whistleblower Li Wenliang.

At the briefing, Blinken spoke of the multiple sanctions the U.S. will impose under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and Democracy, and also economic and visa sanctions against human rights violators and their families.

He said that allies, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, have recently worked with the United States to crack down on human rights abusers who persecute people in the Xinjiang region.

The U.S. Department of State has now issued its annual human rights report for 45 consecutive years. In accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974, the State Department annually collects country-by-country reports from U.S. missions abroad, compiles them in cooperation with other State Department departments, and submits them to the U.S. Congress.

The reports cover a wide range of internationally recognized rights set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.