China summons EU envoy to protest against Xinjiang sanctions

The US, the EU, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday (March 23) that it had summoned the European Union's ambassador, Mr Nicolas Chapuis, to make a "solemn protest" against sanctions the bloc imposed on Chinese officials over human rights abuses in far western Xinjiang.

In a statement, the ministry said Vice-Foreign Minister Qin Gang told Mr Chapuis the EU should recognise the seriousness of its error and correct it to prevent further damage to ties with China.

The United States, the EU, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials on Monday for human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the first such coordinated Western action against Beijing under new US President Joe Biden.

Beijing hit back immediately with punitive measures against the EU that appeared broader, including European lawmakers, diplomats, institutes and families, and banning their businesses from trading with China.

The EU accused Mr Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, of "arbitrary detentions and degrading treatment inflicted upon Uighurs and people from other Muslim ethnic minorities, as well as systematic violations of their freedom of religion or belief".

Others hit with travel bans and asset freezes were senior Chinese official Wang Mingshan; the former deputy party secretary in Xinjiang, Mr Zhu Hailun; and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau.

The EU has sought to avoid confrontation with Beijing, and Monday's sanctions were the first significant measures since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, although Brussels targeted two computer hackers and a technology firm in 2020 as part of broader cyber sanctions.

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