EU approves sanctions over China, Myanmar abuses



EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday approved sanctions over abuses in China, Myanmar and Russia, as the bloc expands measures targeting global rights breaches.
The 27 nations are due to place four Chinese officials and one state-run entity on a blacklist over Beijing’s crackdown on the Uighur minority after ambassadors gave the go-ahead last week.

The highly symbolic move — reported by EU diplomats and expected to be formally unveiled in the EU’s official journal later on Monday — is the first time Brussels has hit Beijing over human rights abuses since it imposed an arms embargo in 1989 after Tiananmen Square.

China’s foreign ministry has warned that Beijing will “react with a firm hand” against any punishment over its actions in the western Xinjiang region.

The measures are part of a package of human rights sanctions targeting a dozen people that also includes individuals in Russia, North Korea, Eritrea, South Sudan and Libya, diplomats said.

“This is a very important step which shows how committed we are,” Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said.

The mechanism — designed to make it easier for the bloc to target rights abusers — was launched this month with sanctions on four Russian officials over the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Diplomats said the fresh sanctions on Russia will target individuals behind abuses in the country’s Chechnya region, which is ruled with an iron-fist by Kremlin loyalist Ramzan Kadyrov.

The EU will also slap asset freezes and visa bans on 11 officials of Myanmar’s junta over the military coup last month and crackdown on demonstrators.

“What we see there in terms of excesses of violence is absolutely unacceptable,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
“That is why we will not be able to avoid imposing sanctions.”

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering a mass uprising that security forces have sought to crush with a campaign of violence and fear.

Diplomats have said businesses tied to the military will likely be placed under sanctions in the coming weeks.

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