UK, EU and US impose joint sanctions against Chinese officials over Uighur ‘industrial scale human rights abuses’

World ‘will not turn a blind eye’ to systematic violations, foreign secretary says - denying link to looming Tory revolt

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 22 March 2021 20:56 GMT
Raab imposes sanctions over human rights abuses in Xinjiang

The UK has announced sanctions against four Chinese officials accused over atrocities committed against Uighur Muslims, in coordinated action with the EU and US.

Dominic Raab said the individuals would face an asset freeze and a travel ban – with the public and companies also expected to be barred from providing them with financial assistance.

The international community “will not turn a blind eye to such serious and systematic violation of human rights,” the foreign secretary told MPs.

Canada will also join the joint approach to calling out “industrial scale human rights abuses” in the “largest mass detention” of an ethnic group since the Second World War.

Beijing hit back almost immediately with retaliatory sanctions against pro-democracy politicians in the EU – with measures against UK organisations expected to follow.

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But Lisa Nandy, his Labour shadow, accused the foreign secretary of “grubby and cynical” timing, designed to head off a Tory revolt later over the UK’s refusal to accuse China of genocide.

Around 30 Conservative MPs are expected to rebel over the Trade Bill in an attempt to prevent trade agreements with countries deemed to be committing genocide.

In a statement, Mr Raab said the sanctions would be imposed against:

* Zhu Hailun, former secretary of the political and legal affairs committee of the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region (XUAR).

* Wang Junzheng, deputy secretary of the party committee of XUAR.

* Wang Mingshan, secretary of the political and legal affairs committee of the XUAR.

* Chen Mingguo, vice chairman of the government of the XUAR and director of the XUAR public security department.

* The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, the state-run security organisation running so-called “training centres” in areas controlled by the XPCC.

“State control in the region is systemic. Over a million people have been detained without trial, there are widespread claims of torture and rape in the camps, based on first-hand survivor testimony,” Mr Raab told MPs.

“People are detained for having too many children, for praying too much, for having a beard or wearing a headscarf, for having the wrong thoughts.

“It’s the largest mass detention of an ethnic or religious group since the Second World War and I believe one thing is clear – the international community cannot simply look the other way.”

But, in the Commons, the government still faced pressure from its own backbenchers over its refusal – unlike the US – to say China is committing genocide.

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