In a seemingly unified Western position, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada on Monday announced sanctions against Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims.
According to the Axios website, these sanctions show that there is a concerted Western effort to hold Beijing accountable for its horrific campaign of arbitrary detention and forced labor against ethnic minorities in far west of Xinjiang, which the U.S. Department of State and many legislatures have considered Genocide recognized.
The sanctions follow the first high-level meeting between the United States and China in Alaska last week, when Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan clashed with their Chinese counterparts on human rights and other issues.
All three sanctions were announced on Monday against officials from the Xinjiang Manufacturing and Construction Corps and the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau. The Production and Construction Corps is a paramilitary organization that controls large parts of the economy in Xinjiang.
Last summer, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on these organizations, which have signed contracts with several large Chinese companies to build mass detention camps and surveillance systems.
European Union action is part of a new comprehensive system of human rights sanctions that includes asset freezes and travel bans similar to the US Global Magnitsky Act.
According to the Wall Secret Journal, it is the first time since Tiananmen Square crackdowns in 1989 that the European Union has sanctioned China for human rights violations.
“The cooperation is as clear a signal as possible that the international community is united in its condemnation of China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the need for Beijing to end its discriminatory and repressive practices in the region,” the British government said in a statement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it would impose sanctions on 10 people from the European Union and four institutions, including European lawmakers and researchers.
The statement alleged that EU sanctions on “so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang” were “based only on lies and deception”.
Among the sanctions is Adrian Zenz, a German researcher whose work helped draw global attention to the detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
“Those affected and their families are prohibited from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau China. Their affiliated companies and institutions are also prohibited from doing business with China,” the statement said.
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