The Foreign Ministry says nine people and four groups face immediate sanctions and threatens further measures.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday announced sanctions against organizations and individuals in the UK for “maliciously” spreading “lies and disinformation” about the situation in far west Xinjiang, where the United Nations claim that the Chinese government is committing violations of the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.
The sanctions target four entities and nine people, prohibiting affected people and their family members from entering Chinese territory and Chinese citizens and institutions from dealing with them, with immediate effect.
“China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the British side not to [to] go further down the wrong path, ”the ministry said in a statement. “Otherwise, China will resolutely react.”
Those sanctioned include Tom Tugendhat, a ruling Conservative Party MP who chairs Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and prominent human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, who is a member of the Labor opposition in the upper house.
Geoffrey Nice, who prosecuted former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and presides over the Uyghur tribunal – an independent tribunal set up to investigate whether alleged rights violations in Xinjiang amount to genocide – was also among the nine.
Nice is also a patron of Hong Kong Watch, a Hong Kong group defending the rights and freedoms of Chinese territory. The group said the sanctions marked the end of the so-called “golden era” of UK-China relations.
“A regime which sanctions UK parliamentarians, lawyers, academics and activists for the ‘crime’ of expressing concern over human rights violations cannot be seriously considered a partner of the UK or a supporter of the rules-based international order, ”Hong Kong Watch said in a statement, noting that another of its patrons, David Alton, was also among those sanctioned.
The Uyghur court, due to hold its first hearing in May, was one of four groups targeted by China alongside the China Research Group, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission (CPHRC) and the courts of ‘Essex.
In a tweet, the CPHRC said it was “honored to have been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party regime in recognition of its tireless work documenting the horrific human rights crisis in China.”
In the name of the @CPHumanRights, we would like to thank the Chinese Communist Party regime for recognizing our hard work, especially our latest report.
– Benedict Rogers Rogers (@benedictrogers) March 25, 2021
Earlier this week, the UK joined the US, Canada and the EU in impose asset freezes and travel bans on Chinese government officials, as well as a Xinjiang security organ, for “gross human rights violations” against Uyghurs and other minorities.
The United Nations said about one million Uyghurs and other Turkish-speaking majority-Muslim residents of the northwest region have been detained in a network of camps that China has described as vocational training centers needed for fight extremism.
Rights groups said Uyghurs were also victims of other abuses, including mass surveillance, sterilization and restrictions on religion.