Sanctions against China: bold, stupid — or pointless?

In view of the harassment of the Uighur minority in China by the Chinese authorities, the European Union has imposed sanctions on Beijing for the first time in 30 years. According to the decision of the EU foreign ministers, the sanctions are imposed on four representatives of the Communist Party of China in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, as well as the organization responsible, according to the EU, for the management of correctional camps for the “re-education” of this Muslim minority. Beijing’s response was not long in coming.

To see a partner in Beijing? Hardly…

The EU should re-check its attitude to Beijing, — says De Volkskrant:

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth — this is the language that Beijing speaks fluently. His latest movie, namely the imposition of sanctions on European politicians, officials, and scientists, is just a light warm-up in the business of conducting “military operations” with the help of legal weapons. … And now Brussels has felt it for itself. … In order to pass the controversial investment agreement through the European Parliament, despite all the criticism, the European Commission needs a strong political rear. However, against the background of such an extensive sanctions list compiled by China, Brussels will have to reconsider its attitude towards Beijing. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see China as anything other than a rival.»

They try to maneuver all the time

The EU at least makes some gestures, “ notes Neue Zurcher Zeitung:

“This measure is a step towards the formation of a common pan-European policy towards China. However, it should be recognized: the goal is still very far away and is in a fog. The European Union, that is, the backbone of the 27 countries, does not manage to develop a coherent and consistent strategy towards China. Back in December, the EU concluded an investment agreement with Beijing after long negotiations. … A number of European countries, including France and Germany, insist on their right to pursue their own policies towards China. … In fact, this means nothing more than that the Europeans are still trying to maneuver between the option of investment and the option of sanctions.”

Beijing can still be useful to Europe!

Now the European Union should have set its priorities quite differently, — the Hungarian pro-government newspaper Magyar Hirlap is indignant:

“For several months now, the pages of the world press have been full of headlines about the inability of the European Union to provide its countries with a covid vaccine. … In this regard, it is particularly piquant that the EU is starting to impose sanctions against China right now when the call to buy vaccines from the east is getting louder and louder — including as a result of mistakes made by Brussels. As Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said: such a position is senseless, harmful — and aimed only at an external effect.”

This hasn’t worked before

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung does not believe that EU sanctions will have any effect:

“China is no longer the same developing country that was once sanctioned after the Tiananmen Square events. Now it is a rearing world power, with which Germany conducts a very intensive and extensive trade. The Chinese leadership is confident in its own abilities: unlike in the past, it has both the means and the will to resist Western pressure. The EU, as a union of democratic states, cannot look with indifference at human rights violations. However, there are other opportunities to raise this issue in the dialogue with China. In any case, the EU’s decisions are unlikely to have a serious effect. For example, the sanctions of 1989, including the arms embargo, did not lead to China becoming more politically open, nor to the country refusing to increase its military potential.”

Borrell accused Russia of trying to head towards confrontation with the EU

EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell said Moscow is “more and more” moving away from Brussels.

“It is clear that Russia has embarked on a course of confrontation with the European Union,” the diplomat stressed.

According to him, the issue of relations with Russia remains on the agenda, it will be raised again at the European Council at the end of the week.

Among other things, Borrell recalled the “five principles” of interaction with Moscow, the relevance of which the foreign ministers of the EU countries confirmed at the last meeting.

In 2016, the EU adopted five principles on the basis of which all member states should build relations with Russia: full implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine, strengthening cooperation with the EU’s eastern partners, ensuring energy security in Europe, developing European-Russian cooperation on international issues representing interest for the EU, and support for civil society in Russia.

A European source in Brussels on the eve of the EU MFA Council meeting told reporters that the participants will prepare a strategic discussion on European-Russian relations, which will become one of the central topics of the EU summit on March 25-26.

In February, after his visit to Moscow, Borrell for the first time himself came up with an initiative for new anti-Russian sanctions over the case of Alexei Navalny.

Sanctions against China were imposed by the US, Canada, and Britain

Restrictive measures have been introduced against top officials of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.

Following the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada imposed sanctions against Chinese officials for violating the rights of Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

So, London imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one organization. The restrictions included Chen Mingguo, head of the Xinjiang Public Security Department, Wang Mingshan, a member of the party committee, head of the political and legal commission of the region, Wang Junzheng, deputy secretary of the Party Committee of Xinjiang, and Zhu Hailun, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress. The sanctions also apply to the Xinjiang Industrial and Construction Building.

Similar sanctions were imposed by Canada, and two Chinese officials were blacklisted by the United States.

“Today’s actions of the Ministry of Finance complement the steps taken also by the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Canada, which have imposed sanctions against these and other individuals,” the US Treasury Department said.

The US sanctions were imposed as part of the Magnitsky Global Human Rights Act.

The sanctions imposed provide for the blocking of all property or property rights of persons included in the list on the territory of the named countries. Also, individuals and legal entities of the United States are prohibited from entering into any transactions with the persons involved in the list.

As reported, in response to the EU sanctions, China will impose restrictive measures against 10 people and four legal entities.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel called China’s decision unacceptable. “These measures are regrettable and unacceptable. The European Union will not change its commitment to protecting human rights, “ he said.

As you know, the Chinese authorities are accused of reprisals against the Uighurs in Xinjiang. In January, the United States became the first country to call China’s actions against the Uighurs genocide. Beijing denies all the charges.

EU imposes sanctions on two Russian citizens over “gay purges”

The European Union has imposed sanctions on Chechen Deputy Prime Minister and unofficial security guard Kadyrov Abuzayd Vismuradov and former police chief Argun Ayub Katayev over the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya.

The decision to impose sanctions on Monday was approved by the EU foreign ministers, later it was published in the Official Journal of the EU — this means that the sanctions have entered into force.

The sanctions were introduced under a new EU mechanism that punishes human rights violators. Before that, the mechanism was used only once to punish four Russians in connection with the situation around the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The sanctions include visa bans and asset freezes. The sanctions list includes only 11 human rights violators and 4 organizations from China, Russia, Eritrea, North Korea, South Sudan, and Libya.

The EU explained that Vismuradov had been the head of the special rapid reaction unit “Terek” since 2012. In this position, he personally supervised the large-scale and systematic persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya. For the same reasons, the sanctions were imposed on Ayub Katayev, the ex-head of the police in the Chechen city of Argun.

Sanctions against four people and one organization from China were imposed for human rights violations in Xinjiang Province.

EU calls on Turkey to refuse to withdraw from the Convention on the Protection of Women

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell has called on the Turkish authorities to abandon their decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women. A message about this appeared on the website of the EU External Relations Service.

According to him, Istanbul’s actions caused misunderstanding in Brussels, as the convention was “a fundamental element of human rights, peace, security and equality in the 21st century” and was intended to protect the inviolability of women from outside encroachments.

The diplomat also expressed hope that Turkey will reconsider its decision in the future and evaluate the actions of the world community to combat domestic violence.

Turkey withdrew its signature under the relevant document on March 20, while the country’s leadership promised to fight for women’s rights in accordance with “their traditional values.”

The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence was adopted in 2011. The document defines psychological, physical, and sexual violence, forced abortion, marriage, and sterilization as criminal offenses. It was signed by 47 states, but only 33 ratified.