The European Union is punishing four Chinese officials and an agency or company for violating Uyghurs human rights. They are the first new European sanctions for China since 1989.
The EU countries agreed on the punitive measures on Wednesday, EU sources confirm after reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Although the foreign ministers still have to give their blessing on Monday officially.
The four punished Chinese will soon no longer be able to travel to EU countries and will no longer access any assets in the EU. Who exactly is involved is still kept secret so that they cannot, for example, quickly return their money.
The EU is re-establishing the human rights sanctions it can recently use against human rights violators worldwide. In addition to the Chinese, the EU is also punishing people from Russia, Libya, South Sudan and North Korea this time, according to the insiders. In total, this would involve another seven people and three organizations or companies.
China’s actions against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang are of growing concern. Uyghurs are imprisoned, tortured and sterilized in camps and are forced to perform forced labour, say human rights activists and experts from the United Nations, among others. Some European governments and the United States have now labelled this as genocide. The House of Representatives did the same two weeks ago.
China, the EU’s most important trading partner after the US, warned Brussels earlier this week that it would already impose high sanctions. “We ask the EU to change its mind. If some insist on confrontation, then we will not shrink back.”
Russia was targeted earlier this month when the EU first used human rights sanctions. Then four Russians were punished, who hold the EU responsible for imprisoning and sentencing Kremlin critic Aleksej Navalny.