China, Russia call on countries to oppose Western sanctions

Beijing, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- China and Russia called for countries to join their “strong opposition” to sanctions imposed by Western countries over alleged human rights violations, as Beijing summoned the European Union ambassador on Tuesday.

On Monday, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom took coordinated measures in parallel with the European Union, imposing sanctions on senior Chinese officials over reported rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province.

The EU also sanctioned two Russians over what it described as the “torture and repression against LGBTI persons and political opponents in Chechnya.”

In a joint press conference in the Chinese city of Guilin with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is on an official visit, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said “every country should stand up and oppose any type (…) of unilateral sanctions.”

“The move just actually fulfills certain countries’ interests, but that will not (be) endorsed by the international community,” said Wang.

Lavrov spoke in a similar vein, saying that Moscow “would like to work together with other countries to strengthen cooperation (in) coping with the Western countries’ moves.”

“Our cooperation (between China and Russia) does not target any other country, and we have vast room for further cooperation, especially in central Asia,” Lavrov added.

In response to the EU sanctions, China on Tuesday announced its own against 10 EU officials, including five members of the European Parliament, and four entities, a decision the EU called “regrettable and unacceptable.”

The Chinese government also summoned the EU’s ambassador to Beijing, Nicolas Chapuis, to lodge “solemn representations” against the bloc’s move.

Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang told Chapuis the EU should recognize the seriousness of its error and correct it to prevent further damage to ties with China, a statement said.

“The Chinese side urges the EU side to reflect on itself, face squarely the severity of its mistake and redress it. It must stop lecturing others on human rights and interfering in their internal affairs,” it added.

“It must end the hypocritical practice of double standards and stop going further down the wrong path. Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions,” it finished.

The EU sanctions, the first by the bloc against China since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, include travel bans and a freeze on the assets of four Chinese officials.

They also prohibit any EU entity from providing financial assistance to the sanctioned individuals, directly or indirectly.

In addition, the foreign ministers of New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday welcomed the moves by the EU, Canada, UK and US, and reiterated their own “grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.”

“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 labor and forced birth control, including sterilization,” New Zealand’s Nanaia Mahuta and Australia’s Marise Payne said, although the countries did not apply their own measures.

The sanctions open more diplomatic conflict and reinforce that Beijing is not willing to compromise on what it considers its internal affairs. EFE


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