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Thursday, December 2, 2021

China And The U.K. In Targeted Sanctions War Over The Situation In Xinjiang

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On March 22, 2021, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced first U.K. sanctions against Chinese Government officials. These sanctions come in response to ever-growing evidence supporting allegations of mass incarceration in camps where Uyghurs would be subjected to torture and abuse, including rape and sexual violence, separation of children from their parents, forced sterilizations, forced abortions, forced labor and much more. Earlier this year, two expert analyses considered the atrocities to amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. On March 9, 2021, Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a non-partisan think tank, reported that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “bears State responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghurs in breach of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention).” In February 2021, a similar conclusion was made by lawyers from Essex Court Chambers, who in their legal opinion identified evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity.  The CCP denies such atrocities.

The Magnitsky sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, were imposed against four Chinese government officials (Zhu Hailun, Former Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region(XUAR); Wang Junzheng, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and previously Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Wang Mingshan, Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and former Director of the Public Security Department of XUAR, Chen Mingguo, Vice Chairman of the Government of the XUAR, and Director of the XUAR Public Security Department), as well as a Xinjiang security body (the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps), for their role in systemic violations against Uyghurs and other minorities. However, as some have pointed out, no sanctions were designated against the top official in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo.

Similar sanctions were imposed by the United States
, Canada and European Union. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The evidence of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang cannot be ignored – including mass detention and surveillance, reports of torture and forced sterilization. Working with our international partners we are imposing targeted sanctions to hold those responsible to account.”

It did not take long before the CCP struck back. On March 26, 2021, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson announced sanctions against British politicians, lawyers, scholars and other “relevant entities” for “maliciously spread lies and disinformation” including: Tom Tugendhat M.P., Iain Duncan Smith M.P., Neil O’Brien M.P., Lord David Alton, Tim Loughton M.P., Nusrat Ghani M.P., Baroness Helena Kennedy Q.C., Sir Geoffrey Nice Q.C., Dr. Joanne Nicola Smith Finley, China Research Group, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, the Uyghur Tribunal, and Essex Court Chambers. As a result of these sanctions, “the individuals concerned and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China, their property in China will be frozen, and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them. China reserves the right to take further measures.”

Where does this take us? There is growing evidence of atrocities perpetrated against Uyghurs and other minority groups. The CCP denies any wrongdoing. Currently, there is no independent investigation that could shed more light on the situation and resolve the ping pong of allegations and denial. Now more than ever, the United Nations must step up and ensure independent investigations. This could be done by establishing a U.N. Human Rights Council mechanism, such as a commission of inquiry or a fact finding mission or a U.N. General Assembly mechanism, akin to the IIIM for Syria, to investigate, collect and preserve evidence of atrocities. Time is of essence.

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