China is sanctioning British lawmakers and entities in retaliation for measures in Xinjiang

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

“This move, based on nothing but lies and disinformation, is a blatant violation of international law and basic standards for international relations, grossly interferes with China’s internal affairs and seriously undermines China-UK relations.”

Sanctions include five MPs – Tom Tugendhat, Iain Duncan Smith, Neil O’Brien, Tim Loughton and Nusrat Ghani – and two House of Lords members, David Alton and Helena Kennedy, as well as academic Joanne Smith Finley and lawyer Geoffrey Nice.

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

China is determined to preserve its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the British side not to go further down the wrong path, the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said. “Otherwise, China will react decisively.”

In response, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “It speaks volumes that, while the UK joins the international community in punishing those responsible for human rights violations, the Chinese government is sanctioning its critics.”

“If Beijing is to credibly refute claims of human rights violations in Xinjiang, it must give the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to verify the truth,” he said in a statement.

The persons concerned and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. Their properties in China will be frozen and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them, the State Department statement said.

The British Ambassador to China has also been called upon by Beijing to submit what it described as “solemn statements expressing strong opposition and strong condemnation”.

While Beijing-London relations have suffered from the ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong, which the UK has suggested violating a historic agreement with China, the new sanctions could send them to new lows.

It is certainly a stark contrast to just five years ago, when then British Prime Minister David Cameron shared a beer with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a visit to the UK that would begin a ‘new golden era’ in the ties between the two. Nations.

‘Won’t Be Silenced’

Iain Duncan Smith, a Member of Parliament and former Conservative Party leader, responded to the news on Twitter, saying the sanctions against him were a “ badge of honor. ”

“It is our duty to denounce the violation of human rights by the Chinese (government) in Hong Kong (and) the genocide of the Uyghurs,” wrote Duncan Smith. “Those of us who live free lives under the rule of law should speak for those who have no voice.”

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

“I do not regret speaking up, and I will not be silenced,” she tweeted.

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

“These actions demonstrate our continued commitment to work multilaterally to promote respect for human rights and to shed light on those in the (Chinese) government and (Communist Party) responsible for these atrocities,” said the US Secretary of State. of Foreign Affairs Antony Blinken after the move.

China responded almost immediately with criminal sanctions, announcing sanctions against 10 EU politicians and four entities – an aggressive move that has called Beijing’s relationship with Brussels into question.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “For a long time the US and the West have deliberately interfered in other countries’ internal affairs by using democracy and human rights as an excuse.”

However, in a statement, David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, said that China’s sanctions against MEPs are “unacceptable and will have consequences”.