US slaps sanctions on Chinese paramilitary body in Xinjiang

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, September 4, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 31 July 2020

US slaps sanctions on Chinese paramilitary body in Xinjiang

  • The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps will have any US-based assets frozen
  • China has been accused of trying to forcibly homogenize Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on a major paramilitary group with vast interests in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, accusing it of abuses against Uighur and other mostly Muslim groups.
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which runs its own settlements, universities and media in the region geared at China’s Han majority, will have any US-based assets frozen, the Treasury Department said.
“The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Founded in the 1950s under orders of communist China’s founder Mao Zedong, the Corps, known locally as the Bingtuan, settled demobilized soldiers on work farms in Xinjiang.
It gradually came to run a vast amount of farm land as well as businesses in areas such as real estate, insurance, plastics and cement.
Human rights groups say that China has in recent years stepped up the migration of ethnic Han to the region and has tried to forcibly homogenize Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims, including prohibiting them from many Islamic practices.
Activists say that some one million Uighurs and other Turkic people have been incarcerated in brainwashing camps, a mass detention that US officials have said has parallels to the Holocaust.
China describes the camps as vocational training centers and says it is seeking to provide education to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism.
The United States earlier in July froze the visas and any US assets of three officials over rights in Xinjiang including Chen Quanguo, the Communist party chief in the region.
The Treasury Department said it was taking action against the Bingtuan in part for links to Chen, an architect of Beijing’s iron-fisted policies toward minorities who previously served in Tibet.


India begins examination of plane’s black box after deadly crash

Updated 8 min 54 sec ago

India begins examination of plane’s black box after deadly crash

  • Air India Express plane overshot runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain
  • Company to pay compensation to the families of the deceased

NEW DELHI: Indian investigators on Sunday began examining the black box of a Boeing-737 that overshot a runway on its second attempt, killing 18 people in the country’s worst aviation accident in a decade.
The Air India Express plane, which was repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic, overshot the runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain near the southern city of Kozhikode on Friday.
The aircraft fell into a valley and broke in half.
In an interview with Reuters partner ANI on Sunday, Anil Kumar, head of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said the country would open the recovered transcripts to international investigators, as well as manufacturer Boeing.
“Only after conducting a thorough and unbiased probe, can we tell what exactly happened,” Kumar said.
The 2,700-meter runway at the airport is known as a “table-top,” an aviation term for runways with steep drops at one or both ends.
They leave little room for error should a pilot overshoot the runway, either through human error or mechanical failure.
Late on Saturday, Kumar told CNN-News18 in an interview that the pilot made an aborted landing attempt into a headwind and then made a second approach with a tail wind, landing 1,000 meters down the runway.
An air traffic control official familiar with the crash confirmed this version of events, adding it is unusual to attempt a landing at the airport with a tailwind, which is typically used for takeoffs.
“The length of the runway in Calicut is around 2,700 meters and the plane touched the ground after crossing 1,000 meters of the length, leaving less room to bring the aircraft to a halt,” the official, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said.
“It was windy and rainy and the runway surface was wet. In such instances the weather is dynamic.”
“An aircraft typically lands and departs in a headwind as a tailwind increases the plane’s speed.”
A spokesman for Air India did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has already said it will pay compensation to the families of the deceased.