China has announced sanctions against organizations and individuals in the United Kingdom over what Beijing called "maliciously spread lies and disinformation" over China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 26 it sanctioned four entities and nine individuals who have been vocal critics of China in the U.K., including five British lawmakers.
The move came in retaliation for measures taken by the British government this week over human rights abuses in China's northwest Xinjiang region.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said those sanctioned were "shining a light" on "gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims.”
"Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them," he wrote in a tweet.
Locked Up In China: The Plight Of Xinjiang's Muslims
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is partnering with its sister organization, Radio Free Asia, to highlight the plight of Muslims living in China's western province of Xinjiang.
Activists and UN rights experts say at least 1 million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been held in camps in Xinjiang, where authorities are also accused of forcibly sterilizing women and imposing forced labor.
China has repeatedly denied all accusations of abuse and says its camps offer vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and warned Britain “not to go further down the wrong path. Otherwise, China will resolutely make further reactions."
The sanctioned parties and their immediate family members are barred from entering China -- including Hong Kong and Macau -- their property in the country is frozen, and Chinese citizens and institutions are banned from dealings with them.
The response by Beijing follows similar sanctions imposed on the European Union, which was part of a coordinated action on March 22, along with the U.K., the United States, and Canada, against Beijing over what the countries call human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
Jo Smith Finley, a Uyghur expert at Newcastle University, reacted on Twitter to being listed among the individuals sanctioned.
"It seems I am to be sanctioned by the PRC (Chinese) government for speaking the truth about the #Uyghur tragedy in #Xinjiang, and for having a conscience," she said. "Well, so be it. I have no regrets for speaking out, and I will not be silenced."