Britain and the EU have taken joint action with the US and Canada to impose parallel sanctions on a senior Chinese officials involved in the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province in the first such western action against Beijing since Joe Biden took office.
The move also marked the first time for three decades the UK or the EU had punished China for human rights abuses, and both will now be working hard to contain the potential political and economic fallout. China hit back immediately, blacklisting MEPs, European diplomats and thinktanks.
The US and Canada also imposed sanctions on several senior Chinese officials as part of the coordinated pressure campaign.
The UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab said that China’s treatment of the Uighur minority was “the largest mass detention of an ethnic and religious group since the second world war”.
Evidence of repression in Xinjiang “is clear as it is sobering,” Raab said.
The sanctions will be imposed immediately and include travel bans and asset freezes against four officials, Raab told MPs.