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By Ritu

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Asian markets fell in morning trade on Wednesday, as tensions between China and the U.S. seemed to have escalated this week after Washington imposed visa bans on Chinese officials linked to the mass detention of Muslims in Xinjiang province.

“The Chinese government has instituted a highly repressive campaign against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other members of Muslim minority groups,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday. “The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.”

China’s Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Component inched down 0.1% and 0.3% respectively by 10:40 PM ET (02:40 GMT). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.5%.

Bloomberg reported earlier in the day that the U.S. is considering limiting U.S. government pension investments in China, further intensifying tensions between the two sides.

Traders and analysts previously hoped that the two nations could make progress on trade talks when high-level officials meet later this week in Washington.

But hopes of that happening faded after the U.S. decided earlier this week to blacklist a list of Chinese tech companies to address human rights violations within China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7%. Sony made headlines after the company said its highly anticipated next generation gaming console, the PlayStation 5, will go on sale in time for the holiday season in 2020.

The news failed to lift the company’s shares. Sony last traded at JPY 6,186, down 0.3%.

South Korea’s KOSPI is closed for a holiday.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 traded 0.7% lower.

In the U.S., Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank will make move to support the money market. His comments were largely overshadowed by the Sino-U.S. trade news and had little impact on stocks.

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