EU sanctions on China for treatment of Uyghurs trigger instant retaliation

The EU has imposed its first sanctions on China since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 – a decision that triggered reprisals of Beijing against European officials, parliamentarians and think tanks.

The European bloc on Monday banned travel and freezing the assets of four officials and a security organization for persecution, including mass internments, of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. The US and UK are expected to follow Brussels in announcing minority treatment sanctions, ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s arrival in Brussels this week.

China’s Foreign Ministry responded by banning travel for 10 people from the EU and four entities, including MEPs who have criticized Chinese policies. Among those targeted were French MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, German researcher Adrian Zenz and Swedish analyst Björn Jerdén. The ministry said companies and institutions associated with them would be “prohibited from doing business with China.”

This decision and China’s response highlight the uncomfortable efforts maintain political and economic ties with Beijing while confronting it in other areas, such as its human rights record. The United States is also enlist allies to join him in trying to counter the influence of China.

The EU sanctions have designated senior officials and entities in Xinjiang with direct links to the internment camp system. These include the Public Security Bureau and the Communist Party leader of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary organization that plays a central role in the region’s economy and security.

The measures also appointed Zhu Hailun as head of the powerful Xinjiang Legal and Political Affairs Committee from 2016 to 2019. He approved the party’s internal documents, later a leak to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which described how “vocational and educational training centers” were conceived as prisons.

The list did not include Chen Quanguo, the leader of the Xinjiang Communist Party, the region’s top official. Chen was targeted by US sanctions last July.

Beijing criticized the EU’s measures as “based on nothing but lies and disinformation” and said they “seriously” undermined its ties with the European bloc.

The Chinese measures also targeted the political and security committee of the European bloc, the grouping of ambassadors of member states in Brussels in charge of foreign, security and defense policy. The Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies in Germany and the Danish Alliance of Democracies Foundation were also on the list.

David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, said the counter-sanctions were “unacceptable” and would have “consequences”.

The United States is expected to release more sanctions related to Xinjiang on Monday, as part of coordinated action with its allies. The move comes less than a week after the Biden administration imposed measures on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over a Chinese law that further erodes democracy in former British territory.

Xinjiang’s new sanctions follow the first high-level meeting between the United States and China since Joe Biden became president.

Blinken and Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, met their Chinese counterparts in Alaska last week in a meeting that escalated into an extraordinary situation. spitting public.

Blinken warned Chinese officials that the United States would raise “deep concerns” over issues such as Xinjiang during their private talks. He had previously described the repression of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as “genocide”.

Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, hit back in a 16-minute speech that criticized America for its foreign policy and accused it of having a poor human rights record in because of its national racial tensions.

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