China sanctions: PM ‘stands firmly’ with blacklisted Brits for ‘shining light’ on Uighurs

Iain Duncan Smith says China sanctions are 'badge of honour'

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MPs including former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Tom Tugendhat, chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, were among the nine named by the Chinese foreign ministry for spreading “lies and disinformation” about the country. The sanctions mean those named are banned from entering Hong Kong and Macau as well as mainland China.

The Prime Minister has condemned Beijing for implementing the sanctions, and praised the nine Britons for speaking out against the alleged treatment of Uighur Muslims.

He posted on Twitter: “The MPs and other British citizens sanctioned by China today are performing a vital role shining a light on the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uighur Muslims.

“Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them.”

US President Joe Biden joined Mr Johnson in condemning the sanctions.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said he and Mr Biden are both “concerned” about the developments from China.

In a joint statement from both the US President and UK Prime Minister, the spokesman said: “The Prime Minister and President reflected on the significant action taken by the UK, US and other international partners earlier this week to impose sanctions on human rights violators in Xinjiang and expressed their concern about retaliatory taken action by China.”

Chen Weihua, China Daily EU Bureau Chief, responded to Mr Johnson’s Twitter post and suggested the UK is being hypocritical over its stance on Beijing.

He said: “When UK followed US in the Iraq War, it was said to ‘spread freedom and democracy’.

“Now everyone knew what it really was. Lies are lies.”

Sir Iain described the sanctions as “a badge of honour”, and ramped up his criticisms of China in an interview with Sky News.

He told the outlet: “We are literally, I believe, seeing genocide take place there as they attempt to exterminate a whole ethnic group.”

The former Tory leader added the casual language used by Beijing about the internment camps “was redolent” of that used by the Nazis.

Mr Tugendaht changed his Twitter profile header to himself on the Great Wall of China, and also told the BBC: “I view this as a direct assault on British democracy and an attempt to silence the British people who have chosen me to speak for them.”

China has been widely accused of violating the human rights of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Human rights groups have accused the Chinese Government of detaining more than a million Uighurs in “re-education camps”, where mass sterilisation of women and forced labour is believed to be carried out.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute found evidence in 2020 of more than 380 of these “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, an increase of 40 percent on previous estimates.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab previously said the treatment of Uighurs amounts to “appalling violations of the most basic human rights”.

China has denied all accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and told the US and UK they have “no right” to attack Beijing on following international law.

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