© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as the vocational skills education center in Dabancheng
By Robin Emmott and David Brunnstrom
BRUSSELS / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States, the European Union, Great Britain and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials on Monday for human rights violations in Xinjiang, in concerted action first against Beijing under the new US President Joe Biden.
Beijing responded immediately with sanctions against the EU, which appeared to be broader, including European lawmakers, diplomats, institutes and families, and banned its businesses from trading. with China.
Western governments are seeking to hold Beijing accountable for the mass detention of Muslim Uighurs in northwest China, where the United States believes China is committing genocide.
China denies all allegations of abuse.
The concerted effort appears to have soon resulted in a concerted US diplomatic effort to confront China in its alliance with allies, a core element of China policy still in progress. development of the Biden administration.
Senior US government officials say they have daily contact with governments in Europe on issues related to China, which they call “the European road show”.
“In the context of increasing international condemnation, (China) continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement ahead of the meeting with ministries EU and NATO chiefs in Brussels this week.
The Canadian Foreign Ministry said: “The presentation of evidence points to systematic human rights abuses, led by the Chinese government.”
UN rights activists and experts say at least 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. Western activists and some politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor, and sterilization. China denies human rights abuses in Xinjiang and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to combat extremism.
The European Union was the first to impose sanctions on Monday on four Chinese officials, including a top security director and an organization, a decision that has been made by Britain and Canada. reflected later in the day.
Last year, the United States appointed to punish top official in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, who was not targeted by other Western allies on Monday, to avoid a larger diplomatic dispute, experts and said the diplomat.
Targets targeted by the EU, Canada, the UK and the US include Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and another senior regional official, Wang Junzheng.
Separately the foreign ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement with Blinken, saying that all three had agreed to ask Beijing to end “oppressive activities” in Xinjiang.
They said the evidence of the abuses was “horrible”, including satellite images, testimony of witnesses and Chinese government documents.
FIRST EU MAJOR PENALTY MEASURES IN DECISION
The move comes after two days of talks at https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN2BB216 between US and Chinese officials last week, which has sparked tensions between the world’s two largest economies. .
The EU accused Chen Mingguo of “arbitrary detention and vile treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, as well as systematic violations of religious freedom.” or their beliefs “.
Others banned from travel and property freezing are: senior Chinese official Wang Mingshan, former deputy party secretary in Xinjiang, Zhu Hailun and the Xinjiang Construction and Production Corps Public Security Bureau.
Unlike the United States, the EU has sought to avoid a confrontation with Beijing. Monday’s sanctions were the first major since the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square, although Brussels targeted two computer hackers and a tech company by 2020. as part of broader cyber sanctions.
The steps have been praised by the United States. “A unified transatlantic response will send a strong signal to international human rights abusers or abusers,” Blinken said.
Although largely symbolic, EU sanctions mark a toughened policy towards China, which Brussels considers a benign trading partner but now considers a rational abuser. fundamental freedoms and rights.
He has repeatedly denounced the torture, forced labor, and sterilization that the country considers ongoing against Muslim Uighurs on the “industrial scale” in Xinjiang and repeated his admonitions. quoted against Beijing on Monday.
Beijing’s response was quick.
Retaliation includes sanctions against European lawmakers, the EU’s main foreign policy decision-making body known as the Political and Security Commission and two houses.
German politician Reinhard Butikofer, who presides over the European Parliament’s delegation to China, is one of the highest-ranking people affected. According to a statement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Alliance of Nonprofit Democracies founded by former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is on the list.
There’s also Adrian Zenz, a German scholar whose study was cited by the State Department last year highlighting the abuse allegations in Xinjiang.
The Netherlands convened the Chinese ambassador to The Hague after Beijing announced the measures against 10 Europeans, while the European Parliament, along with the German, Dutch, Belgian and foreign ministers. another, rejecting Chinese retaliation.
“As long as human rights are violated, I cannot stay silent. These sanctions prove that China is sensitive to pressure. Let this be an encouragement to all of my European colleagues. : Speak up! ” Dutch lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, who was put on the sanctions list by China, said on Twitter.
Restricted to enter or do business with China, Beijing accuses its objectives of seriously compromising its sovereignty over Xinjiang.
All 27 EU governments agreed with the bloc’s sanctions, but the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, called them “harmful” and “nonsensical”.