EU agrees to sanction Chinese officials, first in three decades

DHARAMSALA, 18 March:  The European Union has agreed to sanction Chinese officials over human rights abuses for the first time in three decades, Reuters reported.

“EU ambassadors approved the travel bans and asset freezes on four Chinese individuals and one entity” on Wednesday, the report said citing two diplomats.

This is the “first sanctions against Beijing since an EU arms embargo in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square crackdown,” the report stated and added that “as part of a new and wider rights sanctions,”  and that the names of those sanctioned “will not be made public until formal approval by EU foreign ministers on 22 March.”

“The Chinese officials were accused of human rights abuses against China’s Uighur Muslim minority,” the report stated citing EU diplomats.

The development, the report noted, “marks a significant hardening in the EU’s policy towards China.”

China has however warned on Tuesday that they will “not yield if Brussels interfered in its internal affairs.

“We want dialogue, not confrontation. We ask the EU side to think twice. “If some insist on confrontation, we will not back down,” Zhang Ming, China’s EU ambassador has warned on Tuesday.

Earlier last month, the Netherlands become the first European country to declare China’s treatment of Uighurs as genocide as it joined the global chorus of calling out and condemning Beijing’s atrocities against the Uighurs in East Turkistan.

While China says the detention camps equipped with a high-tech network of surveillance systems are necessary to counter Islamic extremism,  Uighur expert Professor Rachel Harris from School of Arts at SOAS, University of London has declared that “the huge numbers involved, and the detention of many Uyghur cultural leaders – writers and poets, academics and publishers, singers and comedians – suggest that the camps are designed to eradicate local languages and cultures to remould the region’s peoples as secular and patriotic Chinese citizens.”

Though the UN experts and activists say at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in the detention centres in East Turkistan and that growing governments and parliaments across the world are calling out China for genocide against the ethnic Uighurs, Beijing continues to maintain that the camps are voluntary education and training centre.

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