China on Friday imposed sanctions on over a dozen British individuals and entities over what it says are “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang, in a tit for tat action after the UK and European Union sanctioned Chinese officials for human rights abuses in the region.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the sanctions apply to four entities and nine individuals, including five MPs. The individuals concerned and their immediate family members are now banned from entering China”s mainland as well as Hong Kong and Macao and Chinese citizens or organisations are prohibited from doing business with them.
“The United Kingdom imposed unilateral sanctions o0000n relevant Chinese individuals and entity, citing the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang,” the ministry said.
“This move, based on nothing lies and disinformation, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and severely undermines China-UK relations,” it added.
The ministry also said it had summoned the British ambassador to China to protest.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, an MP, said on Twitter he will wear the sanctions as “a badge of honour”.
Other individuals targeted include MPs Tom Tugendhat, Neil O’Brien, Tim Loughton, Nusrat Ghani; peers David Alton, Helena Kennedy; as well as barrister David Alton and academic Joanne Nicola Smith Finley.
The entities named are the China Research Group, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, the Uyghur Tribunal and Essex Court Chambers.
They join the 10 European individuals and four entities already slapped by Chinese sanctions earlier this week as the diplomatic row over Xinjiang escalates.
Beijing is accused of serious abuses towards the Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups including the mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination and forced labour in concentration camps of about 1 million people.
Earlier this week, the EU and UK both imposed sanctions on China over Xinjiang. They were the first restrictive measures either sides had slapped on China for human rights abuses in over 30 years. They were swiftly followed by Canada and the US.
China has also lashed out at Western businesses over the matter with state media calling for a boycott of several brands on Thursday including H&M, Adidas and Nike which have all pledged not to use cotton from Xinjiang over forced labour concerns.