UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday took to Twitter to slam China for imposing sanctions on nine UK individuals and four entities, stating that the freedom to speak out in opposition against the abuse faced by Uyghurs in Xinjiang is fundamental.
“The MPs and other British citizens sanctioned by China today are performing a vital role shining a light on the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims. Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them,” he tweeted.
His remarks come after China introduced sanctions on nine UK citizens and four entities in response to London’s sanctions on Beijing over the issue of human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.
“The Chinese Foreign Ministry has summoned British Ambassador to China to lodge solemn representations, expressing firm opposition and strong condemnation. The Chinese side decides to sanction … nine individuals and four entities on the UK side that maliciously spread lies and disinformation,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said that they will freeze the property of the sanctioned people and entities, as well as ban Chinese citizens and institutions from doing business with them.
“China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the UK side not to go further down the wrong path. Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions,” said China’s foreign ministry.
Lashing out at the sanctions, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that if “Beijing wants to credibly rebut claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, it should allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to verify the truth”.
This comes four days after the European Union (EU) has confirmed its first sanctions on Chinese officials since 1989, targeting four officials and one entity.
The sanctions are in response to alleged human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang, where China is accused of detaining a million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in reeducation camps. Beijing has repeatedly claimed that the camps are vocational training centres and part of efforts to combat terrorism.