08:53 GMT19 April 2021
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    On Monday, the western world, namely the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, and Canada imposed sanctions on a slew of Chinese officials over alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang region. Beijing moved shortly to reciprocate.

    The British Foreign Office has summoned the Chinese ambassador to the country to discuss Beijing's new sanctions on nine UK individuals and four entities, which it said would in no way deflect attention from "violations taking place in Xinjiang".

    The Foreign Office blasted the restrictions as "unwarranted" and "unacceptable".

    "It won't deter us from continuing to raise the plight of the Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang. The ambassador here will be summoned and we will explain in very clear terms the position, both in relation to the MPs [members of parliament] and the other figures who have spoken out, but also that we will not be silenced in terms of speaking out about these human rights abuses", Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told reporters earlier on Friday.

    Exchange of Sanctions

    The new sanctions on the UK primarily target individuals involved with human rights, particularly those related to Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is home to this ethnic minority that the United Nations, the US, the UK, and others have claimed to be a repressed group.

    After the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over the matter on Monday, China came up with reciprocal restrictions, targeting apart from a handful of EU officials, several UK MPs, an academic, a lawyer, and four British entities that will be prohibited from doing business with the world's second largest economy.

    Raab Issues Demands for Beijing

    On Friday, Raab called on the Chinese government to allow United Nations human rights officials into Xinjiang, threatening the country with "increasing international pressure" if Beijing fails to.

    "It speaks volumes that, while the UK joins the international community in sanctioning those responsible for human rights abuses, the Chinese government sanctions its critics. 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", Raab said in a statement.

    After the round of restrictions against Chinese officials, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying hit back at the accusations of forced labour in China's northwest, charging that they, along with the sanctions, are based on "lies and disinformation". She stressed that the Chinese authorities are, vice versa, going to great lengths to improve the lives of ethnic minorities, posting a number of tweets to prove the point:

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    Tags:
    human rights, sanctions, labour, China, UK
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