China warned Wednesday that a “price must be paid” after the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation seeking sanctions against senior Chinese officials over the crackdown on mainly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
The legislation adds to tensions between the two superpowers just as they are locked in negotiations to finalise a “phase one” deal to resolve their protracted trade war.
US President Donald Trump had already angered Beijing after he signed legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, prompting China earlier this week to impose sanctions on US-based NGOs and suspend future visits by US warships to the semi-autonomous territory.
Hours after the Uighur Act of 2019 passed the House late Tuesday, the Chinese foreign ministry said the bill should not become law and issued an ominous warning: “For all wrong actions and words… the proper price must be paid.”
When asked if the bill could impact trade talks, Hua Chunying did not directly answer the question. But she said there was “no way this can have no effect on China-US relations as well as the two countries’ cooperation in important areas.”
In an earlier statement, Hua said the bill “wantonly smears China’s efforts to eliminate extremism and combat terrorism” in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism, she said. Previously, Xinjiang suffered gravely from extremism, violence and terrorism.