China sanctions U.K. for Xinjiang ‘lies,’ continuing more aggressive pushback on Western criticism

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After the coordinated sanctions and condemnation of China’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang from the EU, U.S., U.K., and Canada early this week, Beijing is continuing to push back forcefully with more counter-sanctions.

  • Saying that the U.K.’s human rights criticism was “based on nothing but lies and disinformation” and “severely undermines China-U.K. relations,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued retaliatory sanctions on nine individuals and four British entities, including China Research Group, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, the Uyghur Tribunal, and Essex Court Chambers.
  • Among those affected was Ian Duncan Smith, the leader of the Conservative Party from 2001 to 2003, who said on Twitter that he viewed the decision as a “badge of honor,” and the scholar Dr. Jo Smith Finley of the University of Newcastle. The nine individuals and their families will now be prohibited from entering China, and any assets in China will be frozen.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson today, during which they both “expressed their concern about retaliatory…action” taken by China, per Reuters.

The move follows earlier counter-sanctions on EU institutions and individuals, a whirlwind of whataboutism in which Beijing said that historical atrocities in the West disqualified those countries from criticizing China, a joint statement (in Chinese) with Russia against “politicizing human rights,” and a social media campaign, pumped up by state media, boycotting Sweden’s H&M and American brands Nike and Adidas, among others, for their positions on using Xinjiang cotton amid forced labor allegations.

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