Brussels: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday issued a strong rebuke to China for its sweeping use of coercive measures and called on NATO allies to work with America to mount a pushback on Beijing.
“The United States won’t force our allies into an us or them choice with China. There’s no question that Beijing’s coercive behaviour threatens our collective security and prosperity and that it is actively working to undercut the rules of the international system and the values we and our allies share,” CNBC quoted Blinken, during an address at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, as saying.
He was delivering remarks from Brussels, Belgium after holding consultations with NATO allies.
Blinken called out China’s militarization of the South China Sea, use of predatory economics, intellectual property theft and human rights abuses.
Blinken also called on the Chinese government to follow through on its commitments on human rights as well as on other issues of concern.
China has failed to uphold these commitments in the past, he said.
“We are looking very much forward actually having close consultations between the United States and the EU on China,” Blinken added.
The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the European Union (EU) on Monday to take what they described as “coordinated action” against China to send “a clear message about the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang”.
The sanctions blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region–Zhu Hailun, Wang Junzheng, Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo–for alleged abuses, which have sparked international outrage.
The coordinated move also targeted the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
The sanctions agreed on Monday mark the EU’s first punitive measures on Beijing since it imposed an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In retaliation to the bloc’s sanctions, China has decided to introduce sanctions against 10 European Union officials and four European organizations after accusing them of spreading lies and false information about the Xinjiang region.
“China decided to sanction 10 people and four organizations who seriously harmed the country’s sovereignty and interests by spreading lies and false information with evil intent,” the ministry said in a statement as quoted by Sputnik.
The dispute has seen a flurry of activity in diplomatic circles, with China and European nations summoning each other’s ambassadors to answer for the move and responses to it, according to the South China Morning Post.
On Tuesday, China’s ambassador to Belgium became the latest diplomat to join the dispute.
According to a statement on the embassy’s website, ambassador Cao Zhongming told senior Belgian officials that the EU had “imposed sanctions on China based on Xinjiang-related lies and false information, deliberately provoked confrontation, and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs”.
Meanwhile, Italy’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had summoned China’s ambassador to Rome Li Junhua to appear on Wednesday.
That came after Chinese foreign vice-minister Qin Gang summoned the EU’s ambassador to China Nicolas Chapuis on Monday and British ambassador Caroline Wilson on Tuesday.