China sanctions UK lawmakers and entities in retaliation for Xinjiang measures

In a statement Friday, China’s foreign ministry said the UK had “imposed unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity, citing the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang.”

“This move, based on nothing but lies and disinformation, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and severely undermines China-UK relations.”

Those sanctioned include five members of parliament — Tom Tugendhat, Iain Duncan Smith, Neil O’Brien, Tim Loughton and Nusrat Ghani — and two members of the House of Lords, David Alton and Helena Kennedy, as well as academic Joanne Smith Finley and barrister Geoffrey Nice.

Four entities were also named by Beijing: the China Research Group, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Uyghur Tribunal, and Essex Court Chambers, a leading law firm.

“China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the UK side not go further down the wrong path,” the Chinese foreign ministry statement said. “Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions.”

The individuals concerned and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering mainland China, and Hong Kong and Macao. Their property in China will be frozen, and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them, according to the foreign ministry statement.

The UK’s ambassador to China has also been summoned by Beijing, to lodge what it described as “solemn representations, expressing firm opposition and strong condemnation.”

On Twitter, UK academic Smith Finley said she had been sanctioned “for speaking the truth” about Xinjiang “and for having a conscience.”

“I have no regrets for speaking out, and I will not be silenced,” she added.

The measures come after the UK, in coordination with the European Union, Canada and the United States, announced new sanctions Monday over Xinjiang, targeting those responsible for the crackdown there.

“These actions demonstrate our ongoing commitment to working multilaterally to advance respect for human rights and shining a light on those in the (Chinese) government and (Communist Party) responsible for these atrocities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said following the move.

China responded almost immediately with tit-for-tat penalties, announcing sanctions against 10 EU politicians and four entities — an aggressive move that has thrown Beijing’s relationship with Brussels into doubt.

Speaking Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said “for a long period, the US and the West wantonly interfered in other countries’ domestic affairs by using democracy and human rights as an excuse.”

In a statement however, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, said China’s sanctioning of members of the European Parliament was “unacceptable and will have consequences.”

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