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U.S. Joins EU In Sanctions Against China Over Treatment Of Uyghur Muslims

A protester near China's consulate in Istanbul on March 8.
A protester near China's consulate in Istanbul on March 8.

China and the European Union traded sanctions against each other's officials Monday and the U.S. joined the U.K. and Canada "in parallel to measures by the European Union" to protest "human rights violations and abuses" in the western Xinjiang region.

The EU imposed travel and economic sanctions on four of China's officials in response to the imprisonment of hundreds of Uyghur Muslims.

Among those the EU sanctioned was Chen Mingguo, the director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, because of the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

The sanctions are the first the EU has imposed since 1989, in protest of China's treatment of the Tiananmen Square demonstrators in Beijing.

In response, China has dealt its own sanctions against 10 European individuals and four entities.

"This move, based on nothing but lies and disinformation, disregards and distorts facts, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, and severely undermines China-EU relations," a foreign ministry spokesperson said of the EU's move.

European Parliament members Reinhard Butikofer, Michael Gahler, Raphaël Glucksmann, Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Miriam Lexmann were included in China's sanctions.

The U.S. joined the EU and other allies. In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "The United States is committed to playing a strong leadership role in global efforts to combat serious human rights abuse, through the Global Magnitsky sanctions program and similar efforts."

The EU and U.S., along with Australia, New Zealand, and Canada released a joint statement saying, "We will continue to stand together to shine a spotlight on China's human rights violations. We stand united and call for justice for those suffering in Xinjiang."

The State and Treasury Departments released statements announcing financial terms that send "a strong signal to those who violate or abuse international human rights, and we will take further actions in coordination with likeminded partners."

"We will continue to stand with our allies around the world in calling for an immediate end to the PRC's crimes and for justice for the many victims," Blinken said in the statement.

Jeannette Muhammad is an intern with Here and Now.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.