Several Western countries have announced sanctions against officials in China over rights abuses against the mostly Muslim Uighur minority group.
China has detained Uighurs at camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang and faces accusations of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse.
The sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, target senior officials in Xinjiang who have been accused of responsibility for abuses against Uighurs. They were announced as part of a coordinated effort by the European Union, UK, Canada and the US.
Human rights groups say China has detained more than a million Uighurs and people from other Muslim minority groups at camps in Xinjiang.
The Chinese government has denied the allegations of abuse, claiming the camps in Xinjiang are “re-education” facilities being used to combat terrorism. It has responded with its own sanctions against European officials.
Those hit with sanctions include Chen Mingguo, the director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, who the EU said was responsible for “serious human rights violations”; senior Chinese officials Wang Mingshan and Wang Junzheng; and the former deputy party secretary in Xinjiang, Zhu Hailun.
One entity, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau, was also sanctioned.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the abuse of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang was “one of the worst human rights crises of our time” and the international community “cannot simply look the other way”.
He said the treatment of Uighurs amounted to “appalling violations of the most basic human rights”.
The EU has not imposed new sanctions on China over human rights abuses since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, when troops in Beijing opened fire on pro-democracy protesters.