Western powers led by the European Union have shamed China on Uighur abuses in a show of solidarity, which saw China fire back at lawmakers in the European Parliament, jeopardising a recently sealed investment treaty. The United States, United Kingdom and Canada joined the EU on Monday (22 March) to take what they described as “coordinated action” against China to send “a clear message about the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang”, prompting anger in Beijing and immediate retaliation. The EU started the ball rolling by blacklisting four former and current officials in the Xinjiang region and one entity to face travel-bans and asset-freezes. Washington, which had sanctioned two of those officials in July 2020, added the other two to the list on Monday. “Acting together sends the clearest possible signal that the international community is united in its condemnation of China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang and the need for Beijing to end its discriminatory and oppressive practices in the region,” the UK’s foreign ministry said.
In response, Beijing has said it will impose sanctions on 10 EU officials, including MEPs, and four EU entities for “gross interference” in its internal affairs, “harming” China’s sovereignty and for “flagrantly violating international law.” The sanctions against, for example, five MEPs, a US-based German scholar, Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies or a Danish democracy organization, are designed to punish these EU individuals and entities for “maliciously spreading lies and false information.” China’s foreign ministry added that all relevant personnel and their family members will be prohibited from entering mainland China, as well as the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, adding that their affiliated companies and institutions have also been restricted from communicating with China.
Both Beijing and Moscow have slammed the EU and US for interfering in their domestic affairs and called for a United Nations Security Council summit over what they term heightened “global political turbulence”, which has seen Western powers impose fresh sanctions on the pair over alleged human rights violations. The two powers, whose relations with the West are under increasing strain, made the call in a joint statement on Tuesday (23 March) following talks in Beijing between Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. “At a time of increasing global political turbulence, a summit of the permanent members of the UN Security Council is particularly necessary to establish direct dialogue about ways to resolve humankind’s common problems in the interests of maintaining global stability,” said the statement, published on the Russian foreign ministry’s website. But US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the united response “sends a strong signal to those who violate or abuse international human rights,” as he warned, of “further actions in coordination with like minded partners”.