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China, Russia accuse US of interference

March 23, 2021

In a show of unity, the foreign ministers of China and Russia have met to condemn Western sanctions against them over human rights.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi bump elbows
Sergey Lavrov (left) and Wang Yi met in Guilin, China for their talksImage: Russian Foreign Ministry/Tass/imago images

The foreign ministers of both China and Russia have condemned Western sanctions against them and accused the US of political interference.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov both rejected outside criticism of their authoritarian systems.

What the ministers said

Speaking after the meeting on Tuesday, the pair said China and Russia were working to further global progress on issues such as climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

Wang sharply criticized coordinated sanctions against Beijing by the EU, Britain, the US and Canada over human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China's far western Xinjiang region.

"Countries should stand together to oppose all forms of unilateral sanctions," Wang said. "These measures will not be embraced by the international community."

Lavrov said Russia and China both viewed the US as seeking to rely on Cold War military alliances to undermine the "international legal architecture."

Earlier this month, Russia said sanctions imposed by the EU and US over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny would have a souring effect on Russia's bilateral relations with both.

Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia no longer had relations with the EU after Brussels had "destroyed them." However, the top diplomat added that Moscow would be ready to work with the EU "if and when the bloc is ready to remove this anomaly in relations."

Top security individuals targeted

The EU and US penalties against Russia targeted several individuals within Russia's security sector, including Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov.

On Monday, the EU imposed asset freezes on four Chinese regional and Communist Party officials including Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau.

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau was also hit with measures.

The EU had not sanctioned China significantly since an arms embargo in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy crackdown.

The sanctions came ahead of meetings between the US and NATO members this week, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken seeking to repair relations with NATO members.

China hits back at EU

China had already responded on Monday by imposing sanctions on 10 European individuals and four institutions that it said had damaged China's interests.

Beijing said those targeted had "maliciously spread lies and disinformation," denying charges that more than 1 million people have been locked up in prison-like reeducation camps.

The sanctions barred the European individuals from visiting mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and also banned them from engaging in financial dealings with Chinese institutions.

Politicians around Europe have condemned China's retaliatory actions, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell describing them as "regrettable and unacceptable."

rc/msh (Reuters, AP, EFE)