'We will respond in kind': China's ambassador warns Australia not to join Xinjiang sanctions

www.theguardian.com
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fairly difficult
Cheng Jingye hosted a media event at his residence in Canberra that included a two-hour video conference with officials in Xinjiang
China's ambassador to Australia has warned that Beijing would respond "in kind" if Canberra followed other countries in imposing sanctions against its officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The ambassador, Cheng Jingye, said people should not be under the illusion "that China would swallow the bitter pill" of meddling in its internal affairs, nor attempts to mount a "pressure" campaign.

Cheng was speaking at a media event at his official residence in Canberra on Wednesday, which also included a two-hour-long video conference with officials in the Xinjiang region.

The event was an attempt by Beijing to push back at growing international criticism of what some western countries and analysts have said amounts to genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Human Rights Watch immediately denounced the event, saying it was "clearly a cheap propaganda stunt and it should be called out as such".

During questions from Australian journalists, Cheng initially declined to comment in detail on the current low in the relationship between China and Australia – which has resulted in a freeze on phone calls between ministers, and Beijing taking a series of trade actions against Australian export sectors over the past year.

But Cheng said the "difficulties" in the relationship were not initiated by China.

When asked what would happen if Australia followed the United Kingdom, European Union, United States and Canada in imposing sanctions against officials over the plight of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Cheng said China flatly rejected the allegations about what has happening in the region.

Cheng said the sanctions imposed by other western nations were a "flagrant violation" of international norms and were "based on disinformation or misinformation". Those actions have prompted China to impose sanctions on individuals in those countries, including several parliamentarians.

In a clear message to the Australian government – which has welcomed the sanctions but has…
Daniel Hurst
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