On 26 March, in response to the sanctions on four Chinese officials by the UK, EU, US and Canada governments earlier this week, the Chinese government imposed their own sanctions on UK and EU citizens and groups.
British Members of Parliament (MPs) Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Nusrat Ghani, Tom Loughton, Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien, alongside Baroness Kennedy, Lord Alton, Lawyer Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, and academic Jo Smith Finley will all be banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau. Four UK-based groups – China Research Group, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Uighur Tribunal and Essex Court Chambers – have also been sanctioned.
All those sanctioned will also have their properties in China frozen and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them.
Despite the sanctions against the five backbench MPs, China has yet to place a sanction on the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, similar to how the UK has yet to sanction Chen Quanguo, the Party Secretary of the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
The latest sanctions by China are retaliation for measures taken by the UK government on Monday over human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority group. According to China, the sanctions are justified by the fact of spreading ‘lies and disinformation’ about the country. However, these retaliatory sanctions are a sign that the Chinese government would rather attack its critics than face up to its abuses against Tibetans, Uyghurs and other people under its rule.
“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. If Beijing wants to credibly rebut claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, it should allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to verify the truth,” said UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab.
Earlier this week, similar sanctions were imposed by China on the European Union (EU). Five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) (Reinhard Butikofer, Michael Gahler, Raphaël Glucksmann, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Miriam Lexmann), three members of national parliaments (Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma of the Dutch Parliament, Samuel Cogolati of the Belgian Federal Parliament, Dovile Sakaliene of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania), and a handful of European organisations received Chinese government’s sanctions.
The UK government has expressed its determination to hold those responsible for human rights abuses to account. This means it must therefore expand its sanctions to include Chen Quanguo – current Party Secretary of the XUAR and the former Party Secretary of the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (the TAR).
Sir Iain Duncan Smith said, “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.”