US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have expressed concerns about actions taken by China after the UK, America and European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on human rights violators in Xinjiang.
Biden and Johnson had a telephonic conversation on Friday (local time). The two leaders agreed to work closely on shared foreign policy priorities, including China and Iran, according to a statement by the White House.
While the White House did not reveal details of the issues discussed, Downing Street issued an elaborate statement.
According to the UK government, the two leaders discussed the fight against coronavirus and updated each other on their countries' vaccine rollouts. Prime Minister Johnson stressed that global access to vaccines will be key to defeating the pandemic.
They talked about shared international challenges. The leaders agreed on the need for Iran to come back into compliance with the nuclear deal. On Northern Ireland, the two leaders reiterated their shared commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
"On China, the Prime Minister and President reflected on the significant action taken by the UK, the US and other international partners earlier this week to impose sanctions on human rights violators in Xinjiang and expressed their concern about retaliatory action taken by China," the Downing Street's statement read.
On Friday, China introduced sanctions on nine UK citizens and four entities in response to London's sanctions on Beijing over the issue of human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.
The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the European Union (EU) on Monday to take what they described as "coordinated action" against China to send "a clear message about the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang".
The sanctions blacklisted former and current officials in the Xinjiang region--Zhu Hailun, Wang Junzheng, Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo--for alleged abuses, which have sparked international outrage.
The coordinated move also targeted the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. The sanctions agreed on Monday mark the EU's first punitive measures on Beijing since it imposed an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In retaliation to the bloc's sanctions, China has decided to introduce sanctions against 10 European Union officials and four European organisations after accusing them of spreading lies and false information about the Xinjiang region.
"China decided to sanction 10 people and four organisations who seriously harmed the country's sovereignty and interests by spreading lies and false information with evil intent," the ministry said in a statement as quoted by Sputnik.
The dispute has seen a flurry of activity in diplomatic circles, with China and European nations summoning each other's ambassadors to answer for the move and responses to it, according to the South China Morning Post.
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