China warns EU against ‘confrontational’ human rights sanctions

China has warned the European Union that any human rights sanctions on Beijing would be “confrontational”.

The EU is set to debate sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity over alleged human rights abuses against China’s Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang, according to diplomats.

Travel bans and asset freezes are set to be introduced by the bloc on March 22.

But China’s ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, has condemned the idea of sanctions during an online discussion organised by the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

“Sanctions based on lies could be interpreted as a deliberate attack on China’s security and development,” said Ming.

“It is the responsibility of the Chinese government to protect the security and welfare of the people in China.”

“We want, we need, we want dialogue, not confrontation,” the diplomat added.

The measures will be submitted to EU foreign ministers for approval next week when they meet to prepare for the EU summit on 25-26 March to decide the bloc’s strategy towards China.

Sanctions must be unanimously approved before they can be adopted.

The EU is also preparing new measures in April to denounce Beijing’s violation of the “one country, two systems” principle with the adoption of a reform of the electoral system in Hong Kong.

The reforms allow Hong Kong’s government to veto opposition candidates campaigning for democracy in the legislative elections.

“We ask the European side to think twice,” said Ming on Tuesday.

“If some people insist on confrontation, we will not back down, because we have no choice but to assume our responsibilities towards the people of our country.”

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