China swiftly retaliated against the EU, announcing its own blacklist of 10 individuals — including European lawmakers — and four entities. Beijing’s response in turn prompted warnings from several members of the European Parliament or MEPs, saying they would not ratify the EU-China investment deal that was agreed to in December. “The lifting of sanctions against MEPs is a pre-condition for us to enter into talks with the Chinese government on the investment deal,” said Kathleen van Brempt, an MEP from the left-leaning Socialist and Democrats group.
S&D is the second-largest political grouping in the European Parliament, with 145 MEPs. Those targeted by the Chinese sanctions also weighed in. Beijing said in a statement that its Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang summoned Nicolas Chapuis, EU ambassador to China, on Monday night to protest sanctions by the EU.
The Mandarin-language statement released on Tuesday said EU sanctions targeted at China were based on “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang, according to a CNBC translation. It also warned the EU not to further worsen Europe-China relations. Human rights groups like Amnesty International and international organizations including the United Nations have accused China of holding more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in detention camps. China has repeatedly denied charges of forced labor, and claimed that the camps are re-education camps to weed out extremism and teach people new job skills.