The US and its allies announced sanctions against two Chinese officials for “serious human rights abuses” of Uighur Muslims on Monday, 22 March.
As a display of unity, the European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on the same individuals as well, the Treasury Department said.
The sanctions come after the first face-to-face meeting between top Chinese and US diplomats that took place on 18 March in Alaska. Both had begun with astute remarks in their opening statements, since the tension in bilateral ties had amplified when the Trump administration had directly blamed China for the global pandemic.
The US and its allies, all condemned Beijing's repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, in an attempt to isolate and pressure Beijing.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “Amid growing international condemnation, the PRC (People’s Republic of China) continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity,” Politico reported.
In a joint statement by the intelligence alliance made up of the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said:
“The evidence, including from the Chinese Government’s own documents, satellite imagery, and eyewitness testimony is overwhelming. China’s extensive program of repression includes severe restrictions on religious freedoms, the use of forced labour, mass detention in internment camps, forced sterilisations, and the concerted destruction of Uighur heritage.”
In an immediate response, China also announced sanctions against 10 European Union politicians and four entities, namely the Political and Security Committee of the Council of the European Union, Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, the Mercator Institute for China Studies, and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, for allegedly spreading “lies and disinformation.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement which said that EU was distorting the facts and “grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs,” as reported by CNN.
"The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. The Chinese side urges the EU side to reflect on itself, face squarely the severity of its mistake and redress it. It must stop lecturing others on human rights and interfering in their internal affairs," the statement added
(With inputs from Politico and CNN.)