“This action will ensure that our goods and technologies are not used in the Chinese Communist Party’s despicable offensive against defenseless Muslim minority populations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement.
The Chinese foreign ministry rejected the sanctions as interference in its affairs and an attempt by Washington to hurt Chinese companies.
“What the United States is concerned about is not the human rights issues at all, but to suppress Chinese companies, undermine the stability of Xinjiang, and smear China’s Xinjiang policies,” said spokesperson Wang Wenbin.
“We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, revoke relevant decisions and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs," said Wang Wenbin.
Wang said Beijing will “take all necessary measures” to protect Chinese businesses, but gave no indication of possible retaliation.
China has detained an estimated 1 million or more members of the Uighur and other Muslim ethnic minority groups in internment camps.
The government describes them as vocational training facilities aimed at countering Muslim radicalism and separatist tendencies.
It says those facilities have since been closed, a claim that is impossible to confirm given the restrictions on visits and reporting about the region.