Today nine Brits, including seven parliamentarians have been sanctioned by the Chinese state. Each individual – all of whom have been critical of China’s treatment of the Uighurs – will be banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau, any property they own in China will be frozen, and Chinese citizens and institutions will be prohibited from doing business with them.
Five members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China; Tory MPs Sir Iain, Nusrat Ghani and Tim Loughton, Labour Peer Baroness Kennedy, and Crossbench Peer Lord Alton have released a statement saying:
“Today’s sanctions have unmasked the Chinese Communist Party. These actions are not only an attack on us as individuals but an attempt to stifle the free and open debate that is at the heart of our parliamentary democracy.”
The two leaders of the China Research Group Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien similarly condemned the move, saying:
“Ultimately this is just an attempt to distract from the international condemnation of Beijing’s increasingly grave human rights violations against the Uyghurs. This is a response to the coordinated sanctions agreed by democratic nations on those responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. This is the first time Beijing has targeted elected politicians in the UK with sanctions and shows they are increasingly pushing boundaries.”
Two non-parliamentarians were sanctioned too, chair of the Uighur Tribunal Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, and Newcastle University academic Jo Smith Finley, whose research focuses on the Uighurs. This morning Boris Johnson responded to China’s move with unusually terse language:
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 Uyghur Muslims.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 26, 2021
Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them.
At least Tugendhat got his sightseeing in before being whacked on the red list…
Just updated my profile header. I don't think it's going to be updated in person soon. pic.twitter.com/6Z7ssl5jqB— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) March 26, 2021