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EU sanctions 4 Chinese officials for mass detention of Uyghur Muslims

European Union officials have approved sanctions against four Chinese officials and one Chinese entity for the "large-scale arbitrary detentions" of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, the European Council confirmed Monday.

Why it matters: The measures are part of a sweeping EU sanctions regime, modeled after the Global Magnitsky Act, designed to reflect the bloc's "determination to stand up for human rights and to take tangible action against those responsible for violations and abuses," the Council said in a statement.

  • This marks the first time the EU has sanctioned China for human rights abuses since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, according to the Wall Sreet Journal reports.
  • The U.S. State Department and various legislative bodies, including the Dutch Parliament, have recognized Beijing's sweeping campaign of surveillance, detention, forced labor and forced sterilization of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities as a "genocide."

Details: The effects of the sanctions include asset freezes and a travel ban to the EU, as well as a prohibition on persons or entities within the union from making funds available to those listed. Officials in North Korea, Libya, Russia, South Sudan and Eritrea were also sanctioned for human rights abuses.

The sanctions target violations that include:

  • The "large-scale arbitrary detentions" of Uighurs in China
  • Repression in North Korea
  • Extrajudicial killings and "enforced disappearances" in Libya
  • Russia's torture and repression of political opponents and LGBTQ people in Chechnya
  • Tortures and executions in South Sudan and Eritrea.

The big picture: The U.S. sanctioned two of the same officials — Communist Party official Zhu Hailun and Xinjiang Public Security Bureau director Wang Mingshan — in July. The U.K. is expected to announce action against China for its abuses in Xinjiang on Monday.

Go deeper: The Official Journal of the EU details the sanctions.

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