The move was announced at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, with the group agreeing to implement travel bans on and freeze the assets of four Chinese individuals and one entity.The measures were issued by the EU in response to allegations of human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China.
Beijing has faced criticism from countries and international bodies over accusations that it is mistreating Uighur Muslims, detaining them in ‘re-education camps’ and using them as forced labor, in what some nations have called a genocide. China has denied that the government is oppressing the Uighur minority.
The EU has previously claimed that a visit to the Xinjiang region by its ambassadors has been delayed over their demand to visit detained Uighur academic Ilham Tohti.China has responded to these claims by stating that it has invited EU countries to see the situation for themselves but, so far, representatives from European nations have chosen to delay their visits.
The last time the EU imposed sanctions on China was in 1989 in response to Beijing’s handling of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, when an arms embargo was placed on the country that limited shipments of equipment that could be used by the Chinese military.
The new sanctions were announced at a meeting where foreign ministers are considering imposing restrictions on numerous countries and business entities over human rights violations. Myanmar is also set to face the introduction of punitive measures.