In a move that would sharply antagonize the already frayed relations between the US and China, president Trump is reportedlyconsidering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies to punish Beijing’s detention of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in what we reported recently were "massive internment camps", the NYT reportedciting current and former American officials.
While Trump has engaged in extensive punitive measures against China over the country's "unfair" trade surplus with the US involving various rounds of tariffs - to which China has responded in tit-for-ta measure - the contemplated economic penalties would be one of the first times the Trump administration has taken action against China because of human rights violations, a topic which Beijing has been acutely sensitive about and could prompt a far more "emotional" response by Beijing.Additionally, US officials are also seeking to limit American sales of surveillance technology that Chinese security agencies and companies are using to monitor Uighurs throughout northwest China.
According to the report, while discussions to publicly rebuke China’s treatment of its minority Muslims had been underway for months among top government officials, the they gained urgency two weeks ago, "after members of Congress asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese officials."
And as noted above...
Until now, President Trump largely has resisted punishing China for its human rights record, or even accusing it of widespread violations. If approved, the penalties would fuel an already bitter standoff with Beijing over trade and pressure on North Korea’s nuclear program.
Human rights advocates say the mass detentions in the northwest region of Xinjiang are the worst collective human rights abuse in China in decades. It is also a part of President Xi Jinping's governing style: since taking power in 2012, Xi - who recently changed the constitution to declare himself president for life - has steered China on a hard authoritarian course, which includes increased repression of large ethnic groups in western China, notably the Uighurs and Tibetans.