China summons foreign diplomats in protest over sanctions

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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during a media conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, March 22, 2021. The European Union imposed Monday sanctions on four Chinese officials accused of responsibility for abuses against Uyghur Muslims, provoking swift retaliation from Beijing. (Aris Oikonomou, Pool via AP)

BEIJING – China on Tuesday said it summoned foreign diplomats in protest after the United States, the European Union, Canada and Britain jointly imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in China’s far western Xinjiang region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Tuesday called the new sanctions a “slander and an affront to the reputation and dignity of the Chinese people.”

“I admonish them that they should not underestimate the firm determination of the Chinese people to defend their national interests and dignity, and they will pay the price for their folly and arrogance,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.

That came hours after the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers denounced a new wave of criticism and sanctions against both countries over human rights.

At a news conference in the southern Chinese city of Nanning, China's Wang Yi and Russia's Sergei Lavrov rejected outside critiques of their authoritarian political systems and said they were working to further global progress on issues from climate change to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Countries should stand together to oppose all forms of unilateral sanctions,” Wang said. “These measures will not be embraced by the international community.”

Russia is also under Western sanctions over human rights abuses and military aggression against Ukraine. Lavrov said Russia’s ties with China grew stronger as Moscow’s relations with the EU suffered damage, while accusing the West of “imposing their own rules on everyone else, which they believe should underpin the world order.”

“If Europe broke these relations, simply destroying all the mechanisms that have been created for many years ... then, probably, objectively, this leads to the fact that our relations with China are developing faster than what’s left of relations with European countries,” Lavrov said.