The United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials on Monday for human rights abuses of Muslims in Xinjiang, China.
The first such coordinated action against China under the new U.S. President Joe Biden.
However, China responded immediately with measures against the EU, including European lawmakers, diplomats, institutes and families, and banning their businesses from trading with China.
Western governments are seeking to hold China accountable for mass detentions of Muslim Uighurs in northwestern China, where it claims China is committing genocide, though China has denied all allegations.
“Amid growing international condemnation, (China) continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The foreign ministers of Canada and Britain issued a joint statement with Blinken, saying the three were united in demanding that Beijing end its “repressive practices” in China.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand issued a statement expressing “grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang” and welcoming the measures announced by Canada, the European Union, Britain and the United States.
China’s response accused its targets of seriously harming the country’s sovereignty over Xinjiang.
U.N. rights experts say at least 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang, China. The activists and some Western politicians allege China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. However, China says its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.