London [UK], March 26 (ANI): British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday slammed China for imposing sanctions on nine UK individuals and four entities, stating that the freedom to speak out in opposition against the abuse faced by Uyghurs in Xinjiang is fundamental.
Taking to Twitter, Johnson said that the MPs and other British citizens sanctioned today are performing a vital role in shining a light on the gross human rights violations in Xinjiang.
"The MPs and other British citizens sanctioned by China today are performing a vital role shining a light on the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims. Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them," he tweeted.
This comes after China introduced sanctions on nine UK citizens and four entities in response to London's sanctions on Beijing over the issue of human rights abuses in Xinjiang province, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
"The Chinese Foreign Ministry has summoned British Ambassador to China to lodge solemn representations, expressing firm opposition and strong condemnation. The Chinese side decides to sanction ... nine individuals and four entities on the UK side that maliciously spread lies and disinformation," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said that they will freeze the property of the sanctioned people and entities, as well as ban Chinese citizens and institutions from doing business with them.
The name of nine individuals and four entities are Tom Tugendhat, Iain Duncan Smith, Neil O'Brien, David Alton, Tim Loughton, Nusrat Ghani, Helena Kennedy, Geoffrey Nice, Joanne Nicola Smith Finley, China Research Group, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Uyghur Tribunal and Essex Court Chambers.
"China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the UK side not to go further down the wrong path. Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions," said China's foreign ministry.
Lashing out at the sanctions imposed by Beijing, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that if "Beijing wants to credibly rebut claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, it should allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to verify the truth", reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).
This comes four days after the European Union (EU) has confirmed its first sanctions on Chinese officials since 1989, targeting four officials and one entity.
The sanctions are in response to alleged human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang, where China is accused of detaining a million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in reeducation camps. Beijing has repeatedly claimed that the camps are vocational training centres and part of efforts to combat terrorism.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report. (ANI)