China has sanctioned individuals and organisations in the UK who it said “maliciously spread lies and disinformation” – days after the British government imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for alleged gross human rights violations in Xinjiang.
Members of parliament including former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat, were among those named by China’s foreign ministry.
Organisations including the China Research Group of MPs and Essex Court Chambers, which published a legal opinion describing China’s actions in Xinjiang as genocide, were also included in the sanctions.
It’s our duty to call out the Chinese Govt’s human rights abuse in #HongKong & the genocide of the #Uyghurs. 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 on me, I’ll wear that badge of honour. pic.twitter.com/kLqgd6Krpy
— Iain Duncan Smith MP (@MPIainDS) March 26, 2021
Iain Duncan Smith described the sanctions as “a badge of honour”.
On Twitter, he wrote: “It’s our duty to call out the Chinese Govt’s human rights abuse in Hong Kong & the genocide of the Uighurs.
“Those of us who live free lives under the rule of law must speak for those who have no voice.”
On Monday, the UK joined the EU, Canada and the US in sanctioning China – the first time the UK had imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Chinese officials.
China immediately imposed retaliatory sanctions on the EU, including on members of the European Parliament.
But it seems to have been relatively surprised by the British sanctions, taking several days longer to respond.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the UK sanctions were “based on nothing but lies and disinformation” and that the move “severely undermines China-UK relations”.
The spokesperson added that they had summoned the British Ambassador to China to express their opposition.
The sanctioned individuals and entities in the UK are prohibited from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, and Chinese citizens and institutions are forbidden from doing business with them.
Activists and UN rights experts say around a million Uighur Muslims and other minorities have been detained in Xinjiang, in the north west of China.
In their legal opinion published in February, lawyers from Essex Court Chambers wrote: “There is a very credible case that crimes against humanity of enslavement, torture, rape, enforced sterilisation and persecution and the crime of genocide, are being committed against the Uighur population”.
China has repeatedly denied the accusations and says the camps are voluntary training centres.