The European Union on Monday joined the U.S., Britain and Canada in imposing sanctions on Chinese officials over the abuse of ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.
Beijing retaliated by announcing it would penalize four European legislators and a German researcher.
The penalties are the EU’s first against China since Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.
“What they have done is a slander and an affront to the reputation and dignity of the Chinese people,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said. “They will pay the price for their folly and arrogance.”
The sanctions apply to four senior officials in Xinjiang, the northwestern territory where exiles and human rights groups say more than 1 million people have been forced into detention camps. The officials are barred from traveling in Europe.
The EU also froze any European assets of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau, an organization that dominates the region’s economy.
The impact is limited, but the public spat is a diplomatic setback for Beijing.
On Tuesday, the Chinese foreign minister joined his Russian counterpart in denouncing the coordinated sanctions. They rejected criticism and accused the United States of interfering in other countries’ affairs.
“These measures will not be embraced by the international community,” the Chinese minister, Wang Yi, said at a news conference with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov said sanctions were drawing Russia and China closer together and accused the West of “imposing their own rules on everyone else, which they believe should underpin the world order.”
In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the two ministers said no country should seek to impose its form of government on any other.
“Interference in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs under the excuse of ‘advancing democracy’ is unacceptable,” the statement said.
Top U.S. and Chinese officials traded barbs in Alaska last week in their first face-to-face meetings since President Joe Biden took office.
The meetings in Anchorage reflected increasingly troubled relations between the U.S. and China, which are at odds over a range of issues including human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic.
European governments are increasingly involved in efforts to challenge Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea by sending warships through the disputed waters to assert “freedom of navigation.”
In February, France sent a nuclear submarine through the sea. Britain says a multinational task force with the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth will visit this year. A German warship is due to sail through the region in August.
Chinese relations with Canada have been strained by the arrest of an executive of tech giant Huawei on U.S. charges. Beijing arrested two former Canadian diplomats on spying charges in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada to release her.
The Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, went on trial on Friday and Monday but no verdict has been released.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.