China sanctions British MPs in retaliatory move

China has issued sanctions against several British politicians after the United Kingdom joined the European Union in sanctioning Chinese officials linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The sanctions, announced early Friday, target seven politicians — including former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, as well as three more MPs.

Those named and their immediate family members will be banned from entering China, have any assets in China frozen and are prohibited from doing business with Chinese firms.

The announcement comes four days after the U.K. — along with the United States and Canada — slapped sanctions on Chinese officials over their involvement in the crackdown on the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. The EU had earlier done the same, prompting Beijing to issue counter-sanctions on EU officials as well.

“It speaks volumes that, while the UK joins the international community in sanctioning those responsible for human rights abuses, the Chinese government sanctions its critics,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, reacting to the sanctions on Friday morning. “If Beijing want 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.”

Duncan Smith and Nus Ghani, another of the MPs targeted, called the sanctions against them a “badge of honour.”

Other individuals on the sanctions list include two House of Lords peers as well as a barrister and an academic. China also targeted several entities, including the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission and the China Research Group, also established by Tory MPs.

Tensions between China and the U.K. have increased in recent weeks. The sanctions come just as Hong Kong asked 14 countries to stop recognizing the British National Overseas (BNO) passport. On Friday, the British Foreign Office responded to the claims, saying “the Hong Kong government has no authority to dictate which passports foreign governments recognize as valid.”

Stuart Lau contributed reporting.

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