On 25th March 2021, Luxembourg's foreign policy chief Jean Asselborn invited the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Luxembourg, H.E. Mrs Yang Xiaorong, to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for a meeting following the sanctions imposed by China in response to restrictive measures adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22nd March 2021 under the European Union's new global human rights sanctions regime.
Minister Asselborn pointed out that this sanctions regime allows the European Union to take concrete measures against individuals, entities and bodies responsible for serious violations or abuses of human rights in countries around the world. In this context, the Council of the European Union has so far approved restrictive measures against fifteen individuals and four entities in six countries. These designations include four Chinese individuals and one Chinese entity that have been instrumental in the repression of the Uighur Muslim minority by resorting to arbitrary detention and large-scale surveillance, degrading treatment and infringement of religious freedom.
Minister Asselborn took note of the Chinese authorities' response, who in turn on 22nd March announced sanctions against members of the European Parliament and three national parliaments, academics, two European research institutes and think tanks, as well as the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the European Union and the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights. As per their function, three Luxembourgers are concerned by these sanctions.
The Minister considers these measures, which directly target elected officials as well as individuals and organisations that have used their freedom of expression to denounce certain aspects of policies implemented in China that are contrary to human rights, to be highly regrettable.
Jean Asselborn underscored the firm determination of the European Union and its Member States to defend human rights and to respond to serious human rights violations or abuses irrespective of where they are committed, including in Xinjiang. In this context, the Minister recalled the EU's fundamental values and principles, including academic freedom, freedom of expression and basic democratic freedoms, and noted that the Chinese sanctions did not address the EU's legitimate concerns.
In conclusion, Minister Asselborn expressed the hope that this exchange would contribute to a better understanding of the principles underlying the European Union's new global human rights sanctions regime and indicated Luxembourg's willingness to continue the dialogue on human rights with the Chinese authorities.
Press release by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs