EU to Sanction 4 Chinese Officials and One Entity for Human Rights Violations in Xinjiang

The Wall Street Journal reported on March 11, citing several diplomats, that the European Union will target China with sanctions for the first Time since the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. The EU will sanction four Chinese officials and one entity over human rights issues in Xinjiang.

Senior EU officials agreed Thursday to target Chinese officials under the European version of the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions regime adopted late last year. The report said the EU’s lengthy negotiations around the issue this week once again exposed internal divisions in the EU’s strategy toward China.

The sanctions, which will include a travel ban and asset freeze, are based on what the U.S. and some European countries consider to be “genocide” against Muslim minorities such as the Uighurs, for what the Chinese government has done in Xinjiang. It is reported that the decision still needs to be formally approved and is expected to be adopted at a meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers Council later in March. The Chinese officials to be sanctioned are reportedly included in a broader international list of alleged human rights abusers, which also includes those from Russia, North Korea and the Republic of South Sudan, among other countries.

In February, the European Union used the European version of the Magnitsky Act for the first time to sanction Russian officials involved in the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The agreement was delayed until noon Thursday because the Hungarian government, which has close ties with Beijing, took the lead in opposing the sanctions package, the report said. The EU’s sanctions against China over the Tiananmen Square incident have so far been limited to an arms embargo.