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We will not back down under sanctions, China warns EU - Metro US

We will not back down under sanctions, China warns EU

FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue in Beijing

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – China warned the European Union on Tuesday against planned EU sanctions for human rights violations, saying Beijing would not yield if Brussels interfered in its internal affairs.

EU ambassadors are expected on Wednesday to give the go-ahead for sanctions in response to alleged human rights abuses against China’s Uighur Muslim minority.

“We want dialogue, not confrontation. We ask the EU side to think twice,” Zhang Ming, China’s ambassador to the 27-nation bloc, told an online seminar on Tuesday. “If some insist on confrontation, we will not back down.”

The expected EU measures will consist of travel bans and asset freezes against four Chinese officials as well as one entity, EU diplomats told Reuters last week.

Zhang rejected accusations of persecution and forced labour of Uighurs in China’s far west region of Xinjiang, saying “China haters” were spreading lies for political gain.

He also warned the EU against linking the investment deal the two sides reached in December with human rights issues or Beijing’s actions on Hong Kong. “Economic issues should not be politicized,” Zhang said.

The EU regards the investment pact as giving European firms better access to Chinese markets and redressing unbalanced trade relations. But human rights issues could make it a hard sell to EU lawmakers, whose approval will be needed for the deal to take effect.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Mark Heinrich)

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