European Union ambassadors have approved a travel ban and asset freezes on four Chinese individuals and one entity, whose names formally will be made public by EU foreign ministers on March 22.
The sanctions are part of a new and broader list of human rights sanctions.
Chinese officials have been accused of human rights abuses against the Uighur ethnic minority, a European diplomat told Reuters news agency.
The sanctions against Europe’s second-largest economic partner are the first since those imposed in June 1989 after the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing.
According to UN activists and rights experts, at least 1 million Muslims are being held in camps in the western region of Xinjiang. According to allegations, China has tortured, sterilized, and forced labor on detained citizens.
The Dutch parliament was the first European to denounce China’s treatment of the Uighurs as genocide, following the example of Canada and the United States.
China’s mission to the European Union commented that Beijing’s policies will not change.
“Sanctions are confrontational. We want dialogue, not confrontation. We ask the EU side to think twice. If some insist on confrontation, we will not back down, as we have no options other than fulfilling our responsibilities to the people.”
China has always denied rights abuses and has defined the camps as vocational centers whose purpose is to combat extremism.
The full list of officers sanctioned by the European Union consists of 11 names. The other sanctioned officers are from Russia, Libya, South Sudan, and North Korea.