China slaps new sanctions on UK entities over ‘lies and disinformation’ on Xinjiang

Finance

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying attends a news conference in Beijing, China January 21, 2021.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins | Reuters

BEIJING — China slapped sanctions on U.K. entities on Friday, saying that Britain’s sanctions on Chinese individuals over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang were based on “lies and disinformation.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs imposed sanctions on four U.K. entities and nine individuals that will be prohibited from doing business with China. Their assets in the country will also be frozen, the ministry said.

That’s a step further than previous Chinese sanctions on foreign entities. This week’s sanctions on European Union entities and those on American politicians in January were focused on prohibiting travel to China and doing business.

The new sanctions on the U.K. primarily target individuals involved with human rights, particularly those of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang is home to the Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority that the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom and others have identified as a repressed group.

The U.S., EU, U.K. and Canada on Monday imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, the first coordinated action by Western nations since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. The countries cited human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China — accusations Beijing has repeatedly denied.

On Thursday, Swedish clothing retailer H&M disappeared from major online shopping sites in China after backlash on Chinese social media over the brand’s previous comments over alleged forced labor in Xinjiang. A similar statement from Nike prompted two Chinese celebrities to cut ties with the U.S. sportswear brand.

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