Estonia summons Chinese ambassador over EU sanctions

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Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Chinese Ambassador to Estonia was summoned today (March 24) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over sanctions implemented against citizens, think tanks and institutions of the European Union.

The ministry said in a statement that China has imposed sanctions on European parliament members, diplomats and researchers - people doing their daily work. Such a reaction from China is unacceptable, the statement said, and Estonia condemns the sanctions.

The ministry emphasized human rights are universal and that all countries, including China, have an obligation to ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

China's activities do not help to promote cooperation with the European Union, the ministry said, nor do they support the development of bilateral relations between Estonia and China.

The ministry told Ambassador Li Chao that Estonia will continue to protect human rights around the world, supports the sanctions implemented by the EU and is ready to extend them in the case if justified.

The sanctions imposed by the European Union are directed against Chinese officials who have consistently violated human rights and are based on evidence, the statement said

Earlier this week, the EU, UK, US and Canada imposed sanctions on officials in China over rights abuses against the mostly Muslim Uighur minority group, the BBC reported. China responded with its own sanctions on 10 European officials.

China has detained Uighurs at camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang, where allegations of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse have emerged.

This is the first time the EU has imposed new sanctions on China over human rights abuses since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Three Lithuanian diplomats and a member of parliament were added to China's blacklist and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also summoned the Chinese ambassador to Lithuania, the country's national broadcaster LRT reported on Wednesday.

The black list also includes several members of the European Parliament, members of the Belgian and Dutch parliaments and scholars. They have all now been barred from entering China.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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