China has sanctioned British MPs and other individuals and organisations for what it claims are “lies and disinformation” in retaliation for UK sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, and Tom Tugehdhat, who chairs the foreign affairs select committee, are among the MPs sanctioned by Beijing. Two members of the House of Lords, Helena Kennedy and David Alton, are also on the list alongside Joanne Nicola Smith Finley, an academic and expert on the Uighur people.
The people named and their immediate family will be banned from entering Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China and Chinese citizens and organisations will be barred from doing business with them. Duncan Smith said his inclusion on the list was a “badge of honour”.
Organisations sanctioned include the China Research Group of China-sceptic Conservative MPs, and Essex Court Chambers, a barristers’ set that produced a legal opinion describing China’s actions against Xinjiang’s Uighurs as genocide.
On Monday the UK joined the EU, Canada and the US in imposing asset freezes and travel bans on Chinese officials over Beijing’s treatment of the Uighurs and others in Xinjiang. It was the first time Britain had taken such action against China.
Campaigners and UN human rights experts say at least 1m Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. Activists and western leaders have accused China of torture, forced labour and sterilisations in the camps, allegations Beijing denies.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “The United Kingdom imposed unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity, citing the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang. This move, based on nothing but lies and disinformation, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and severely undermines China-UK relations.”
The UK’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, dismissed China’s protests in a tweet on Friday.
“While the UK joins the international community to sanction human rights abuses, Chinese govt sanctions its critics,” Raab said. “If Beijing want to credibly rebut claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, it should give @UNHumanRights access to verify facts.”