Western sanctions target Chinese officials, avoid Chen Quanguo

From the left to the right, and the top to the bottom: Chen Mingguo, Wang Mingshan, Zhu Hailun, and Wang Junzheng
From the left to the right, and the top to the bottom: Chen Mingguo, Wang Mingshan, Zhu Hailun, and Wang Junzheng
23rd March 2021

Party Secretary who pioneered repressive measures against Tibetans and Uyghurs is not held to account.

The United Kingdom and European Union, along with Canada and the United States, have imposed parallel sanctions on four senior Chinese officials responsible for wide-ranging human rights abuses against the Uyghur people.

Absent from the list, however, was Chen Quanguo, the Party Secretary of the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), who was previously responsible for human rights violations including arbitrary arrest, torture and police violence in Tibet.

The four Chinese officials, Chen Mingguo, Wang Jungzhengm Wang Mingshan and Zhu Hailun, are responsible for the persecution and mass internment of Uyghur Muslims will be immediately sanctioned by travel bans and asset freezes, said the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab.  

This is the first time in three decades that the UK or the EU have punished China for its human rights abuses. The US and Canada also imposed sanctions on several senior Chinese officials as part of the coordinated pressure campaign.

The sanctions were met with an angry response from China, which responded by sanctioning 10 EU officials and four entities, as well as blacklisting MEPs, European diplomats, and think tanks.

Free Tibet has been leading efforts to see sanctions imposed against the senior Chinese official Chen Quanguo, the Party Secretary of the so-called XUAR. Since November it has let a joint effort with the Tibetan community and World Uyghur Congress to call for the Secretary of State to use his power to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on Chen. In a media statement, Free Tibet’s Chief Executive Officer, Sam Walton, expressed joy and frustration at the new sanctions:

“Between them, Chen Quanguo’s minions (…) are responsible for the security crackdowns, religious repression, indoctrination and surveillance that now loom over the Uyghur people and it is right that they have been sanctioned. However, by ignoring the ring-leader Chen Quanguo, Western governments are sending a message to the Chinese government that they are too scared to take action against anyone with real influence in the politburo. (…) Once again, the government has put trade above human rights.”

Free Tibet has vowed to push ahead with its campaign to see sanctions imposed on Chen Quanguo.


The new sanctions show that governments are capable of taking action against the Chinese government, but they are not enough. Chen Quanguo has carried out human rights abuses on an epic scale against Tibetans and Uyghurs and must also be held to account. If you have not already done so, please add your voice to our campaign calling on the UK government to Ban Chen.