Sunday, August 1, 2021

China bans British MPs in tit-for-tat sanctions

From the moment the UK imposed its first ever sanctions on Chinese officials earlier in the week, a response from Beijing was inevitable.

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China has imposed sanctions on nine UK citizens – including five MPs – for spreading what it called “lies and disinformation” about the country.

All nine are vocal critics of Beijing.

It comes in retaliation for measures taken by the UK government on Monday over human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority group.

Those targeted by China include former conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, two lords, a lawyer and an academic.

The response by China follows similar sanctions imposed on the European Union, which was part of the co-ordinated Western action on Monday.

The nine will all be banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau, any property they own in China will be frozen and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them.

Smith said: “It is our duty to call out the Chinese governments human rights abuses in Hong Kong and their genocide of the Uighur people.

“Those of us who live free lives under the rule of law must speak for those who have no voice. If that brings the anger of China down upon me then I shall wear that as a badge of honour.”

MP Nusrat Ghani told the BBC, “This is a wake-up call for all democratic countries and law makers that we will not be able to conduct our day-to-day business without China sanctioning us for attempting to expose what’s happening in Xinjiang and the abuse against the Uighurs.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “It speaks volumes that, while the UK joins the international community in sanctioning those responsible for human rights abuses, the Chinese government sanctions its critics.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the UK’s decision to impose sanctions “flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and severely undermines China-UK relations”.

He added that the Chinese foreign ministry had summoned the British ambassador to China to “lodge solemn representations, expressing firm opposition and strong condemnation”.

A response from Beijing had been inevitable following the UK’s move to impose its first ever sanctions on Chinese officials earlier in the week. The tit-for-tat exchange of sanctions could see a further deterioration of the UK’s already poor relationship with China.

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