U.S. Sanctions First Chinese Central Government Official Over Atrocities in Xinjiang

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) recognizes the significant steps taken by the U.S. government in sanctioning Chinese government officials in response to the human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This decision, as declared by the U.S. Treasury and State Department, closely follows the groundbreaking research conducted by VOC Senior Fellow and Director in China Studies Dr. Adrian Zenz, who was instrumental in bringing these issues to light.

The sanctions, announced by the U.S. Treasury Department, cite the meticulous analysis of policies and documents that have laid bare the mechanisms of repression within Xinjiang. As documented in VOC’s Xinjiang Police Files, high-level Chinese officials have been instrumental in the establishment and perpetuation of a system that has led to widespread reports of forced labor, arbitrary detention, and systematic oppression of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

Hu Lianhe, a key figure sanctioned, has been identified as a deputy head of the central government’s Xinjiang work group and has played a significant role in defending the controversial re-education camps before the United Nations in 2018. The U.S. State Department’s release underscores the involvement of the Central Xinjiang Work Coordination Small Group, which Hu co-leads, in the orchestration of policies that have rationalized the existence of these camps under the guise of counterterrorism and de-radicalization efforts.

VOC CEO Ken Pope stated, “The U.S. sanctions against Chinese officials signal a firm stand for human rights in Xinjiang. Our commitment to unveiling truth and seeking justice remains absolute in the face of the CCP’s record of continued abuses.”

The actions taken by the United States come as a direct consequence of a concerted effort to hold accountable those responsible for the suppression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. As highlighted in Dr. Zenz’s research, these Chinese officials have played a substantial role in the creation and enforcement of policies that have led to severe human rights violations. This includes the defense and administration of ‘re-education’ centers, as well as involvement in the drafting of the De-Extremification Regulation, which has been pivotal in justifying the existence and operations of these camps. The U.S. government’s actions not only corroborate the extensive evidence presented in our reports but also mark an important milestone in the global advocacy for the rights of the Uyghur people and other ethnic groups who have faced systemic repression.

The sanctions follow the U.S. commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and fall on the 75th anniversary of this key document, sending a clear message of the U.S. stance on international human rights. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation regards these measures as a crucial step toward ensuring accountability for human rights violations and echoes the call for transparent and ethical governance.

This action against Chinese officials marks a critical point in international relations, emphasizing the global community’s intolerance for human rights abuses. It is a testament to the power of evidence-based research and educating policymakers to inform foreign policy and underscores the Biden administration’s willingness to address human rights concerns on the world stage. As VOC President Amb. Andrew Bremberg added, “America’s sanctions reflect our unwavering commitment to human rights and the dignity of all people. We stand in solidarity with the victims in Xinjiang.”

For further information on the sanctions and the research that led to this decision, refer to the official statements from the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. State Department.


For press inquiries contact Lily McHale at lily.mchale@victimsofcommunism.org or (202) 629-9500 ext. 415.