EU sanctions against Chinese officials are only of symbolic value

Crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples must be acknowledged as genocide (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) welcomes the sanctions against Chinese officials which the foreign ministers of the EU states decided on today. At the same time, the human rights organization criticized the hesitant and overall insufficient action of the EU in the face of the massive oppression of the Muslim nationalities in Xinjiang / East Turkestan: "The new sanctions are a good start – but not more," stated Jasna Causevic, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, in Göttingen today. "The European Union is still far away from a China policy that focuses on human rights and European values."

Causevic added that the newly adopted entry bans and asset freezes are primarily of symbolic value: "The Chinese leadership will not allow itself to be deflected from its previous course. This would require harsh economic sanctions, which the EU is apparently not prepared to impose," Causevic criticized. "So far, the diplomats could not even bring themselves to clearly call the crimes in Xinjiang what they are: a genocide against the Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups of western China." Against this backdrop, she emphasized that the EU should demand China to immediately close all re-education camps, end the repression, allow an international observer mission, and grant free access to independent media.

"The democratic world must be more consistent in criticizing genocide crimes – also in regions where there is no civil war," Causevic stated. "However, the EU is intimidated by China's aggressive diplomacy – and there are fears of economic retaliation." Still, economic interests must not take precedence over human rights, and compliance with international law must become the sine qua non for business relations as well. Otherwise, China's behavior could become a model for other unjust regimes.

The STP has been calling, for many years, for sanctions against three officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who were largely responsible for the genocide: In 2017, Zhu Hailun – chairman of the Committee for Legal and Political Issues and former security chief of the Xinjiang region – had signed numerous documents concerning the establishment of the re-education camps. His successor, Wang Junzheng, is seen as a hopeful newcomer to the CCP. The 58-year-old Han Chinese from the coastal province of Shandong was transferred to the country's northwest in 2019 to perfect the internment system. Party Secretary Chen Quanguo had already left a trail of blood in Tibet, where he served in the same capacity from 2011 to 2016. There, he declared the entire Tibetan population enemies of China in order to systematically destroy their ethnic identity. More than a million nomads were forcibly settled, turning them into paupers of the state. This policy of oppression was continued in Xinjiang.