China vs UK: What do China’s new sanctions mean for the UK? ‘Playing hardball’

China slammed by expert for 'using film for public relations'

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Trade and politics are intertwined. The deterioration of relations between two countries can have significant ramifications for both – and their allies – meaning tensions between the UK and China threaten to have major consequences. A decade ago China was a strategic ally of the British Government, but state relations have soured in recent years. And now the Chinese Government recently imposed sanctions on EU and UK parliamentarians, think tanks, academics, and committees.

Professor Juscelino Colares, a professor of Business Law, Political Science, and co-director of the School of Law’s Frederick K Cox International Law Center said the sanctions have been put into effect in relation to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

China said the 10 penalties were implemented due to the spreading of “lies and disinformation” about these human rights abuses.

The move comes as a response to Britain’s decision to implement measures against four Chinese officials and follow a similar punishment by China against a group of MEPs, European academics and think tanks.

The named Britons have long called for sanctions against China over the alleged mass rounding up for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Sanctions are a popular political tool used by countries when dealing with foreign nations.

Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted self-governing state, group, or individual.

These penalties are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances, but instead may also be imposed for a variety of political, military, and social issues.

The sanctions have been condemned by western countries, with the EU and UK calling them an attack on democracy.

Professor Colares told “These are economic and travel sanctions the United States and its allies (Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom) have imposed against four individual Chinese officials for human rights violations, and for their roles in implementing forced labour programs and mass detention programs.

“The alleged acts against the Uyghur Muslim minority have taken place in the Xinjiang region, in northwest China.

“The United States began similar sanctions last year, during the Trump administration, targeting the Chinese government growing repression in Xinjiang, as well as Hong Kong.

“At the time, the United States went further than its allies have gone so far by calling the actions against Uyghur Muslims genocide.”

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The UK Government is being encouraged to pursue targeted punishments against China amid new electoral laws which are being rolled out in Hong Kong.

The political science professor added the sanctions indicate growing support for tougher action.

He added: “The new sanctions demonstrate growing multilateral support for concerted action in the form of individual asset freezes and travel bans against officials participating in the Chinese government persecution of the Muslim minority.

“To Washington’s allies, who had so far welcomed US leadership but stayed away from sanctions due to their interest in increasing trade ties with China (often at US cost), they show that the days of empty talk may be over.”

Professor Colares revealed the sanctions are an important consideration for the UK as the country is a world leader and could set a precedent with its actions.

He said: “First and foremost, these sanctions demonstrate the UK’s historical commitment to human rights has finally been put into action by the Boris Government, at least with respect to the Chinese humanitarian violations in Xinjiang.

“The United Kingdom has had an admirable role in opening its doors to Hong Kong residents, but so far had a timid response to the events in northwest China.

“The question remains what will happen to this refound voice on human rights when the Chinese Communist Party begins sanctioning UK companies commercially.

“The Chinese Government plays hardball and will try to split the Western alliance, as have Iran and other dictatorial regimes with some success, unfortunately.”

The sanctions are not the only element likely to affect the relationship between the UK, USA and China in the coming weeks and months.

Professor Colares said: “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seems to have gotten the message that, despite style and rhetorical differences, at least on trade, the Biden Administration is not so different from the Trump Administration.

“Washington will not be naive to remove national security- and anti-IP-theft-tariffs against China merely based on Xi Jipeng’s promises or the exchange of diplomatic protocols signalling a change in behaviour.

“Of greater concern would be Xi Jipeng’s miscalculation that the United States has turned soft on the South China Sea.

“Short of risking a disastrous war, action against the Philippines or Taiwan would come at severe cost to China.

“Members of the US Congress would not think twice before punishing any such aggression with the cancellation of China’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations status, which was the key to China’s access to the prized US market, as well as its accession to the WTO.”

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