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China imposes retaliatory sanctions against former USCIRF commissioner

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced sanctions earlier this week against Johnnie Moore, the former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced sanctions earlier this week against Johnnie Moore, the former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- The Chinese government has imposed retaliatory sanctions against another American official who has condemned China's repression of religious freedom.

China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday sanctioned Johnnie Moore, former commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in response to the United States' May 12 blacklisting of Chinese government official Yu Hui and his immediate family from entry to the United States over his repression of Falun Gong practitioners.

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The United States sanctioned Yu following the release of the State Department's 2020 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom to Congress that states police arrested more than 6,600 Falun Gong practitioners last year and that Beijing maintains a security apparatus to "eliminate" the Falun Gong movement.

Yu, the former office director of the Central Leading Group on Preventing and Dealing with Heretical Religions of Chengdu, was sanctioned for committing "gross violations on human rights, namely the arbitrary detention of Falun Gong practitioners for their spiritual beliefs."

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China announced its barring of entry to Moore and his family on Wednesday during a foreign ministry press conference.

"In response to the U.S. blatant move to endorse cults and impose unilateral sanctions on Chinese personnel based on lies and disinformation, China decided to sanction Johnnie Moore," China's Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

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Zhao also condemned the State Department's recently released report on international religious freedom as an endorsement of cults that disregards facts and is full of ideological bias that denigrates China's religious policies.

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"China urges the U.S. side to rectify its mistake, rescind the so-called sanctions and stop interfering China's internal affairs in the name of religious issues," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement of condemnation against the blacklisting on Moore on Thursday.

"Beijing's attempts to intimidate and silence those speaking out for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, only draw additional international attention and scrutiny to its egregious abuses," he said. "This includes the ongoing crimes against humanity and genocide in Xinjiang as well as its repression of religious and spiritual adherents, including Tibetan, Buddhists, Christians and Falun Gong practitioners."



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The USCIF also condemned the sanctioning of its former commissioner.

"Johnnie Moore joins a growing list of government officials and human rights activists -- including myself and former USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin -- who the brutal Chinese communist regime has sanctioned for criticizing its oppressive policies and religious freedom violations," Tony Perkins, the USCIRF vice chair, said in a statement. "The sanction is a badge of honor."

China has sanctioned several Americans, Canadians and Europeans as well as organizations as the Western world has been plying pressure against Beijing over its human rights abuses, particularly in Xinjiang.

The United States, as well as several Western allies, has accused China of detaining more than 1 million Uighur and other Muslim minority citizens in internment camps in China's northwestern Xinjiang region with its human rights abuses constituting genocide.

In March, China blacklisted Manchin and Perkins as well as Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Chong and others in retaliation against Xinjiang-related sanctions unilaterally imposed by Canada, Britain, the European Union and the United States earlier that month.

Moore, the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of KAIROS, said it was "an honor" to be sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party over giving voice to Uighur Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and "countless others the CCP tries to silence every day."

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"The CCP doesn't understand the difference between 'the truth' and a' lie' but here's some truth we know: they are weaker than they want us to believe that they are," he said in a statement. "A global coalition is building to hold them to account."

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