China has summoned the European Union's ambassador to protest against the sanctions imposed on Chinese officials over the human rights violations in Xinjiang.
"On the evening of March 22, People's Republic of China Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang summoned the head of the EU delegation to the People's Republic of China, expressed a strong protest on behalf of the Chinese government and strongly condemned the unilateral sanctions imposed on China a few hours ago under the pretext of the so-called human rights violations in Xinjiang," Sputnik quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement.
The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the European Union (EU) on Monday to take what they described as "coordinated action" against China to send "a clear message about the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang".
The sanctions blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region - Zhu Hailun, Wang Junzheng, Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo - for alleged abuses, which have sparked international outrage.
The coordinated move also targeted the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
The sanctions agreed on Monday mark the EU's first punitive measures on Beijing since it imposed an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
The sanctions were adopted by the bloc's 27 foreign ministers at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday and then signed into EU law.
In retaliation to the bloc's sanctions, China has decided to introduce sanctions against ten European Union officials and four European orgzations after accusing them of spreading lies and false information about the Xinjiang region.
"China decided to sanction ten people and four orgzations who seriously harmed the country's sovereignty and interests by spreading lies and false information with evil intent," the ministry said in a statement as quoted by Sputnik.
The European Parliament President David Sassoli called the sanctions against EU lawmakers and orgzations unacceptable, stressing that such actions by Beijing will have consequences.
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.
Groups such as the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) said those inside the camps are victims of torture, rape, political indoctrination and forced sterilisations. The US Department of State under then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the crackdown on Uyghurs as 'genocide'.
( With inputs from ANI )
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