On 22 March, foreign EU Ministers decided at a meeting in Brussels to sanction four Chinese persons and one organization over violations of human rights against Muslim minorities. The sanctions are the first new EU sanctions against China in over 30 years.
According to Danish daily BT, the new sanctions are directed at those responsible for the oppression of the Muslim minority Uighurs in the Xinjiang region. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod calls it “serious violations”, and he emphasizes that the sanctions are aimed at “those who are directly responsible”.
“We can and will not accept this from the European side, and we send a strong and comprehensive signal about this with today’s sanctions,” Jeppe Kofod says to BT after the meeting.
The sanctions will apply after publication in the Official Journal and mean that those concerned cannot enter the EU and it will be forbidden to make funds available to them.
The basis for the sanctions is a global system of human rights sanctions adopted last year. It has recently been used against Russia and according to Jeppe Kofod, the EU is now targeting people who are responsible for serious human rights violations. “That is why we on the Danish side have put pressure on the new sanctions regime,” Jeppe Kofod says. “It is not a symbolic act. It affects real people and it’s an important tool to have. But it can not stand alone and we must make alliances and keep countries up to the commitments they have,” he says.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated in a press release that the decision is based on nothing but lies, misinformation, and contempt, and it distorts facts.