Ambassadors summoned in latest round of tit-for-tat between EU, China

Ambassadors summoned in latest round of tit-for-tat between EU, China
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas Photo: Stefanie Loos/AFP Pool/dpa

China’s ambassadors in Berlin and Paris were summoned for talks on Tuesday, marking another round in a tit-for-tat between China and the European Union that was kicked off by sanctions slapped on Chinese officials by Brussels over the treatment of Uighurs.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels that he had insisted on a meeting because he wanted to make it very clear that the sanctions on members of parliament and scientists were absolutely incomprehensible.

France had similarly summoned China’s ambassador over “unacceptable statements,” dpa learned from the Foreign Ministry in France.

“Insults to independent researchers and disputes with elected officials … are inadmissible and have no place in the relations that the embassy of China is supposed to help develop between France and China,” said the ministry earlier.

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China was hit by EU sanctions on Monday for abuses against the Uighur people, the first time the bloc has issued restrictive measures on Beijing for human rights violations since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

They are directed against those responsible for the persecution of the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region in north-west China, including four Chinese officials and one entity in the western region.

The United States, Britain and Canada followed with their own sanctions.

Within hours, Beijing responded with a tit-for-tat move, imposing sanctions on 10 European lawmakers and scholars as well as four European institutions, accusing them of spreading “lies and disinformation.”

Among them was German researcher Adrian Zenz, who is known for his studies of the Xinjiang camps, and the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Germany.

The individuals concerned and their families are prohibited from entering Chinese territory.

China’s Foreign Ministry also summoned the head of the European Union delegation to Beijing and separately summoned the British ambassador in protest.

EU envoy Nicolas Chapuis was called in for talks on Monday, the ministry said in a Tuesday statement, during which China’s Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang said the punitive measures were based on “lies and false information.”

The sanctions are contrary to reality and reason, and the EU is not qualified to act as a human rights teacher, Qin Gang was cited as saying.

China is urging the EU to recognize the seriousness of its mistake, correct it and end the confrontation “in order to not harm Chinese-European relations any further,” the statement added.

The British ambassador was apparently given a similar message.

In the last few years, hundreds of Uighurs, Kazakhs and Huis have testified that they were held in internment camps in Xinjiang province as part of what observers say is a government campaign to forcibly assimilate ethnic minorities.

The Chinese government says the camps – estimated to have held more than 1 million people since 2017 – are “vocational education centres” to eradicate extremism and terrorism.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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