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  • Rikki Lambert

China sanctioned by US, EU, UK, Canada as Australian MPs move condemnation

The European Union, United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada have all imposed sanctions against four Chinese officials and a state-run corporation in the Xinjiang region.

The EU states it imposed the sanctions due to:

The violations targeted today include the large-scale arbitrary detentions of, in particular, Uyghurs in Xinjiang in China

Brussels, London and Ottawa blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region -- Zhu Hailan, Wang Jungzheng, Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo -- over alleged abuses against Muslim minorities.

The coordinated strike also targeted the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Washington slapped sanctions on two out of the four officials.

Britain's foreign ministry said:

"Acting together sends the clearest possible signal that the international community is united in its condemnation of China's human rights violations in Xinjiang and the need for Beijing to end its discriminatory and oppressive practices in the region."

The symbolic move is the first time Brussels and London -- in other matters increasingly at odds with each other since Brexit -- have targeted China over accusations of widespread abuses and forced labour in Xinjiang.

They last hit Beijing over human rights breaches when they imposed an arms embargo in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Beijing blasted the EU measures and immediately hit back by announcing entry bans on 10 Europeans -- including five members of the European Parliament -- as well as two EU bodies and two think-tanks.

China's foreign ministry said the EU's move:

"grossly interferes in China's internal affairs" and "severely undermines China-EU relations"

Politicians from both sides of Australia's federal parliament have also criticised China for "serious and systemic" breaches of human rights in Xinjiang.

Liberal Kevin Andrews and Labor's Chris Hayes are putting forward a resolution sharply critical of the Chinese government's treatment of Uighur people.

Mr Andrews said the "egregious" human rights abuses involved the imprisonment, torture and enslavement of millions of ethnic Uighurs, telling parliament on Monday:

"There is overwhelming evidence of the cruel, inhumane and brutal practices of the Chinese communist regime.
"Some of these practices extend beyond Xinjiang but the sheer scale of restrictions on freedom, the mass internments and the programs of mass sterilisation and enforced labour elevate the activities in the region to new levels of human rights abuse."

China argues there are no breaches of human rights and the Uyghurs are being "re-educated" to guide people away from terrorism and separatism. Mr Andrews was not buying the argument:

"But these unconvincing and self-serving responses conflict with both the statements of Chinese officials and other objective evidence about the activities in Xinjiang.

The motion also calls for greater action to enforce laws against modern slavery and identify supply chains that use forced labour.

"This is not a party-political issue. It is an issue of basic human rights," Mr Andrews said.

"This is a time when the parliament should speak with one voice. I cannot think of any member or senator who would vote against this motion."

Bahtiyar Bora from the Australian Uyghur Association encouraged parliamentarians to endorse the motion.

"All members of parliament should support this motion and demand that the Australian government take much stronger action on what many believe is genocide taking place in plain sight."

The United States, Canada and The Netherlands have all officially recognised the situation in Xinjiang as genocide.

However a recent Senate motion declaring it so failed to win support from the two major parties.

"At least one million innocent civilians have been locked up for no reason in a network of several hundred prisons," Mr Bora said.

"This must be challenged by democratic nations like Australia."

Eleven members of parliament spoke to the motion on Monday and it will be debated again at a later date.

-- with AAP, AFP


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