Australia has backed international sanctions against two Chinese officials for “serious human rights abuses” against Uighur Muslims.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne – in a joint statement with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta – said the two governments supported the measures announced by the US, UK, Canada and the European Union overnight.
“The Australian and New Zealand Governments today reiterate their grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” the statement said.
“In particular, there is clear evidence of severe human rights abuses that include restrictions on freedom of religion, mass surveillance, large-scale extra-judicial detentions, as well as forced labour and forced birth control, including sterilisation.”
In a carefully orchestrated series of statements, the US and allies in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific created a unified show of force, announcing sanctions and issuing condemnations seemingly meant to isolate and pressure Beijing.
The US targeted Wang Junzheng, the Secretary of the Party Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and Chen Mingguo, Director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.
“These individuals are designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption,” the US Treasury Department said.
“Chinese authorities will continue to face consequences as long as atrocities occur in Xinjiang,” a US Treasury Department spokesman said.
The European Union announced its sanctions overnight, naming Zhu Hailun, former head of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and three other top officials, for overseeing the detention and indoctrination program targeting Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, they said, according to the Official Journal of the European Union.
China responded almost immediately with tit-for-tat penalties, announcing sanctions against 10 EU politicians and four entities for “maliciously spreading lies and disinformation”.
They will be banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, while their related companies and institutions are restricted from doing business with China, it said.
In a statement posted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China accused the EU of “disregarding and distorting the facts” and “grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs” by imposing sanctions against its officials.
Senator Payne and Ms Mahuta called on China to permit observers from the United Nations and other international organisations to enter Xinjiang.
– Reported with CNN