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According to reports, members of Congress and other U.S. officials have raised the possibility of imposing U.S. financial and/or immigration sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region. Quoted in the Washington Post, “Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Stone said Wednesday that the U.S. was deeply concerned about China’s detention of at least ‘tens of thousands’ of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims and could take action under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act.”

According to the Post, “U.S. lawmakers raised the possibility of Magnitsky Act sanctions this month, signaling growing concern in Washington over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Republican leaders of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, asked the U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, to visit the region and collect information on Xinjiang officials responsible for the mass detention policy.”

The prospect of imposing Global Magnitsky financial and/or immigration sanctions on foreign officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses has been floated recently not only in connection with China, but also in relation to alleged human rights abuses and corruption in the Sudan and elsewhere.

As discussed extensively on this site, the Global Magnitsky Sanctions, which came into force in December 2017, are a powerful sanctions weapon in the United States’ formidable legal arsenal.  The Global Magnitsky Sanctions authorize the Executive Branch to sanction foreign officials and private parties for a broad range of corrupt acts and human rights abuses, without the requirement of any jurisdictional nexus with the United States. Notably, under the Global Magnitsky Sanctions, the United States may directly sanction current and former government officials for corruption and human rights abuse.

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