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China sanctions UK entities, individuals over Xinjiang 'lies and disinformation'

China sanctions UK entities, individuals over Xinjiang 'lies and disinformation'

Security guards stand at the gates of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Huocheng County in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China on Sep 3, 2018. (File photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter)

BEIJING: China sanctioned organisations and individuals in the United Kingdom on Friday (Mar 26) over what it called "lies and disinformation" about Xinjiang, days after Britain imposed sanctions for human rights abuses in the western Chinese region.

The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that it had sanctioned four entities and nine individuals, including former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, that "maliciously spread lies and disinformation".

Targeted individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering Chinese territory, the ministry said, adding that Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them.

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The move is a retaliation to a coordinated set of sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada against Beijing over what the countries call human rights violations against the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Beijing already applied retaliatory sanctions against the EU that were in line with Friday's announcement.

"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," the Chinese ministry said. "Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions."

Activists and United Nations rights experts say that at least 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations.

China has repeatedly denied all accusations of abuse and says its camps offer vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

"It seems I am to be sanctioned by the PRC (Chinese) government for speaking the truth about the #Uyghur tragedy in #Xinjiang, and for having a conscience," Jo Smith Finley, a Uighur expert at Newcastle University, said on Twitter.

"Well, so be it. I have no regrets for speaking out, and I will not be silenced."

Source: Reuters/kg

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