China warned the European Union not to interfere in its national security affairs, saying any sanctions over human rights abuses — based on “lies” — could fuel confrontation.
“I am deeply concerned about possible sanctions,” China’s ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, said during a European Policy Centre event on Tuesday.
“If some insist on confrontation, we will not back down.”
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The EU is preparing a slate of measures over alleged human rights abuses that could include sanctions on Chinese officials and entities, according to three people familiar with the preparations. The action would be related to Beijing’s alleged treatment of its Muslim minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
China has denied that any personal freedoms have been restricted and has touted the benefits to people living in the region.
The sanctions would be aimed at four Chinese nationals and one entity, according to one source. The measures will be discussed at a meeting of the EU foreign ministers on March 22.
European Commission spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
The EU’s measures are part of a new human rights violation regime targeting abuses in different countries and regions. The bloc first used this approach against Russia earlier this year over the jailing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
“It seems not everyone wants to see a peaceful Xinjiang,” Zhang said. “China haters don’t.”
Zhang called on the EU to “think twice about the sanctions” and called for a dialog rather than confrontation. He described criticism over Xinjiang, where human rights organizations have condemned the “reeducation camps” that they say house more than a million people from the Uighur population, as “political manipulations” designed to strip the population of its right to a better life.
“The EU is against disinformation, yet these are lies more outrageous than disinformation,” Zhang said. “Sanctions based on lies could be interpreted as deliberately undermining China’s security and development interests.”
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