EU set to renew sanctions on Chinese officials accused of human rights violations in Xinjiang
- Sanctions target four officials Brussels identified as architects of ‘large-scale surveillance’ of Muslim ethnic minorities in western region
- European Parliament to debate EU-China relations while pushing for listing of more Chinese officials
Ambassadors in the EU’s powerful Coreper II committee will discuss the sanctions as part of the bloc’s overall human rights sanctioning regime on November 30, after which the extension will be approved during a meeting of ministers from EU member states on December 5. Diplomats dealing with human rights issues okayed the extension on October 3.
While these sanctions also ostensibly remain in place, detailed legal conditions were never made publicly available, meaning it is unclear how stringently they are being enforced.
In recent months, Chinese diplomats have engaged with some sanctioned entities, including the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a German think tank.
However, any discussions about removing the sanctions have borne little fruit, with Beijing’s envoys insisting that Brussels act first – an unlikely development given the pressure in Europe to push China harder on its human rights record.
The European Parliament on Tuesday will hold a debate with the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell. Beijing’s human rights record is expected to come under the radar. The parliament has been pushing for more Chinese officials to be added to the list of sanctioned entities.
Leaders of EU institutions, however, found themselves watching from the sidelines. It was expected that European Council President Charles Michel would meet Xi, but the meeting never materialised.
The four sanctioned Chinese officials are Zhu Hailun, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region; Wang Junzheng, the Communist Party Secretary for Tibet and previously head of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of Xinjiang; Wang Mingshan, secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Political and Legal Affairs Commission; and Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.
Brussels has named the four as among the architects of what it described as a “large-scale surveillance, detention and indoctrination programme targeting Uygurs and people from other Muslim ethnic minorities” in Xinjiang, the far-western Chinese province where Beijing is accused of detaining a million Uygurs and other ethnic minorities in re-education camps.
Beijing denies the charges. It says the camps are vocational training centres and part of efforts to combat terrorism.
The sanctioned entity was the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau, which the EU said was “responsible for serious human rights violations in China, in particular large-scale arbitrary detentions and degrading treatment inflicted upon Uygurs and people from other Muslim ethnic minorities”.