China announced retaliatory sanctions against senior British politicians, including the former leader of the ruling Conservative Party, for “maliciously spreading lies and disinformation” about their Xinjiang region.
China’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on Friday that it is targeting nine individuals and four entities in the United Kingdom.
The nine people sanctioned are former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, party political adviser Neil O’Brien, Parliament’s foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendhat, David Alton, Tim Loughton, Nusrat Ghani, Helena Kennedy, Geoffrey Nice and Joanne. Nicola Smith Finley.
Individuals and their family members are prohibited from entering China or trading with Chinese citizens and institutions. All the assets they have in the Asian nation will also be frozen, the statement said. The four affected entities are the China Investigation Group of UK lawmakers, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, the Uyghur Court and the Essex Court Chambers.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab responded in a statement. “It says a lot that, while the UK joins the international community in sanctioning those responsible for human rights abuses, the Chinese government sanctions its critics.
“If Beijing wants to credibly refute allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, it should allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to verify the truth. “
China’s Foreign Ministry said the sanctions London previously imposed on China over allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang were “based on nothing but lies and misinformation” and “seriously interfered with China’s internal affairs.”
The message being sent to the UK and Europe is that “siding with the US will do them no good,” said Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University in Beijing. China’s goal is to remove the influence of these individuals, removing them as obstacles to future cooperation, he said.
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Duncan Smith promised to use the sanction as a “badge of honor” and posted on Twitter that it was the duty of lawmakers to denounce the “abuse of human rights” and “genocide” by the Chinese government.
Ghani said on Twitter that she would not be “intimidated or silenced.” She told BBC radio: “This is a wake-up call to all democratic countries and legislators that we will not be able to conduct our business without being sanctioned by China for just trying to expose what is happening in Xinjiang and the abuse against Uyghurs. “
Earlier this week, the United Kingdom joined the United States, Canada and the European Union in imposing sanctions against China for alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Western governments accuse China of conducting an internship until 1 million Uighur Muslims in camps and forcing them to work, while forcing children from across the region into boarding schools.
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The United States and lawmakers in Canada and the Netherlands have called Beijing’s actions in the Central Asian border region genocide.
China rejects the allegations, saying it is building infrastructure to boost the economy, providing jobs and educating children.
Beijing “reserves the right to take further action,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing on Friday in Beijing.
“The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union brought this about in the first place,” he said. “What China did was a legitimate and just defense.”
Multinationals are becoming caught up in the controversy, with Chinese social media users calling for boycotts of Hennes & Mauritz AB and Nike Inc. for not using cotton grown in Xinjiang.
– With the help of John Liu, Jing Li, Stanley James and Emily Ashton
(Updates with comments from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)