Britain imposes sanctions on Chinese officials, state body over Xinjiang

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain imposed sanctions on Monday on four Chinese officials and a state security body over human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang, part of coordinated action by some Western countries to put pressure on Beijing.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Affairs Secretary Dominic Raab looks on as he walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, February 24, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

Earlier on Monday, the United States announced sanctions on two more Chinese officials linked to China’s Xinjiang region and the European Union imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials, including a top security director.

Britain has repeatedly denounced torture, forced labour and sterilisations that it says are taking place against Muslim Uighurs on an “industrial scale” in Xinjiang and repeated its criticism on Monday.

Activists and U.N. rights experts have said that at least 1 million Muslims are detained in camps in the remote region. China denies abuses and says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

“The evidence of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang cannot be ignored,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Britain imposed sanctions on the same four officials as the EU: Chen Mingguo, the director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, senior Chinese officials Wang Mingshan and Wang Junzheng, the former deputy party secretary in Xinjiang, Zhu Hailun, and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau.

They will be subject to an asset freeze, the government said.

Beijing responded to the EU by saying it had decided to impose sanctions on 10 EU individuals in a rare escalation of diplomatic tensions.

China’s embassy in London criticised Britain’s move.

“I feel disappointed, and I’m strongly opposed to this move, because this is a totally wrong decision,” Yang Xiaoguang, China’s charge d’affaires in London, told Sky News.

“The accusation against us in Xinjiang is totally groundless, and not based on facts.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout, writing by Elizabeth Piper, editing by Estelle Shirbon, Guy Faulconbridge and Giles Elgood