In a coordinated move, the US, EU, UK, and Canada all announced sanctions on Monday against Chinese officials over allegations surrounding China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population of Xinjiang.
The Western blitz against China is a serious escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing and comes after hostile in-person talks between US and Chinese officials in Alaska. Prior to the talks that were held last Thursday and Friday, the US slapped sanctions on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials, setting the tone for the meeting.
In a statement on the Xinjiang sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of committing “genocide” against the Uyghurs. The statement reaffirms that the new administration agrees with a declaration of genocide by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was made in the final days of the Trump administration.
The sanctions targeted Chinese officials associated with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, two entities that the Trump administration hit with sanctions last summer.
The actions marked the first EU sanctions implemented against China since 1989. Beijing retaliated to the EU measures almost immediately and announced sanctions on 10 European individuals and four entities.