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China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Ankara, Turkey, March 25, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP/Turkish Foreign Ministry

China on Friday imposed sanctions on over a dozen British individuals and entities over what it says are "lies and disinformation" about Xinjiang, in a tit for tat action after the UK and European Union sanctioned Chinese officials for human rights abuses in the region.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the sanctions apply to four entities and nine individuals, including five MPs. The individuals concerned and their immediate family members are now banned from entering China's mainland as well as Hong Kong and Macao and Chinese citizens or organisations are prohibited from doing business with them.

"The United Kingdom imposed unilateral sanctions o0000n relevant Chinese individuals and entity, citing the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang," the ministry said.

"This move, based on nothing lies and disinformation, flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, and severely undermines China-UK relations," it added. 

The ministry also said it had summoned the British ambassador to China to protest.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, an MP, said on Twitter he will wear the sanctions as "a badge of honour".

Other individuals targeted include MPs Tom Tugendhat, Neil O'Brien, Tim Loughton, Nusrat Ghani; peers David Alton, Helena Kennedy; as well as barrister David Alton and academic Joanne Nicola Smith Finley.

The entities named are the China Research Group, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, the Uyghur Tribunal and Essex Court Chambers.

They join the 10 European individuals and four entities already slapped by Chinese sanctions earlier this week as the diplomatic row over Xinjiang escalates.

Beijing is accused of serious abuses towards the Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups including the mass arbitrary detention, torture, forced political indoctrination and forced labour in concentration camps of about 1 million people.

Earlier this week, the EU and UK both imposed sanctions on China over Xinjiang. They were the first restrictive measures either sides had slapped on China for human rights abuses in over 30 years. They were swiftly followed by Canada and the US.

China has also lashed out at Western businesses over the matter with state media calling for a boycott of several brands on Thursday including H&M, Adidas and Nike which have all pledged not to use cotton from Xinjiang over forced labour concerns. Euronews

Burundi President-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye attends his inauguration ceremony after the sudden death of predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza, in Gitega, Burundi, June 18, 2020. Photo Reuters


Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Ndayishimiye is set to mull bilateral cooperation relations between his country and Egypt, and means to further bolster them in the coming period.

His visit comes days after a high-level delegation from the Burundian presidency arrived Egypt on Sunday through Ethiopia ahead of the Burundian president’s visit.

Informed sources told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that the delegation will meet with several top Egyptian officials to prepare for the visit which will see Ndayishimiye meeting El-Sisi for discussions on cooperation and developments in Africa. - Ahram Online

Overseas travel in connection with foreign homes will be permitted under coronavirus rules to be voted on by MPs.

Under the rules people leaving England for a foreign holiday could face a £5,000 fine but an exemption dubbed the “Stanley Johnson clause” will allow trips for the “purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property”.

The Prime Minister’s father was criticised last July after it emerged he had travelled to Greece to visit his mountain villa despite Government advice urging Britons against all but essential international travel.

He argued that he was on “essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season”.

EU referendum
Boris Johnson and his father Stanley (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The new regulations for the coming months, covering the Prime Minister’s “road map” out of lockdown for England, include a ban on leaving the country without a valid reason.

One of the exemptions allows travel to visit properties, estate agents, sales offices or show homes overseas if a person is seeking to buy or sell a foreign home.

The legislation also gives an exemption for “preparing a residential property to move in” or “to visit a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property”.

Labour MP Andrew Gwynne told the Guardian: “For hardworking families facing the prospect of missing out on summer holidays, it will stick in the craw that the Government has inserted a ‘Stanley Johnson clause’ to Covid rules that allows people to come and go if they have property abroad.

“It seems it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”

MPs will vote on the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 on Thursday, with the laws expected to come into force on March 29.

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