Who are those on China’s sanctions list against EU, and why these sanctions are justified?
Published: Mar 23, 2021 11:43 PM
Editor's Note:

China on Monday imposed tit-for-tat sanctions on 10 EU individuals and four entities that it accused of seriously offending the China's sovereignty via Xinjiang abuses.

China's sanction list includes two main types of subjects - first, parliamentarians promoting anti-China proposals concerning Xinjiang and scholars giving baseless "evidence" for their accusations against China; and second, EU's human rights agencies or organizations interfering in China's internal affairs for a long time. 

The response is a precise - and even harder - strike back at the EU's sanctions over Chinese officials for so-called "human rights abuses in Xinjiang," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

Instead of contributing to the bilateral relations between China and Europe, these EU parliamentarians and institutions continued to lie and deceive the world by spreading rumors and continually propagating strongly prejudicial agendas and narratives against China, experts said.

Who are those figures and organizations on China's sanction list and how have they challenged China's basic national interests?

China sanctions 10 EU individuals Infographic: Xu Zihe/GT

China sanctions 10 EU individuals Infographic: Xu Zihe/GT

China sanctions 4 EU entities Infographic: Xu Zihe/GT

China sanctions 4 EU entities Infographic: Xu Zihe/GT

Reinhard Butikofer

The first on the list is Reinhard Butikofer, chair of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with China, who is an anti-China "vanguard" who rarely misses a chance to vilify China. He frequently criticizes China-EU cooperation and relations, as well as China's development, calling China "overbearing" in a Twitter post.

In January, Reinhard Bütikofer even threatened that if China doesn't commit to implementing labor rights the way he wants, the parliament might block the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment deal which was struck between China and the EU at the end of last year.

Butikofer is also one of those overseas politicians behind the riots in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to actively interfere in Hong Kong affairs. He supported the illegal "Occupy Central" movement in 2014. In September 2019, Bütikofer visited Hong Kong to meet leading anti-China activists and separatists such as Martin Lee Chu-Ming and Joshua Wong Chi-Fung, media reported.

In October 2020, more than 40 parliamentarians represented by Reinhard Bütikofer wrote to the EU telecommunications ministers and senior officials, alleging that Chinese companies Huawei, ZTE, and other enterprises were "controlled" by the Chinese government, and encouraged Western governments to investigate the entities and brand them "high-risk" 5G vendors.

Michael Gahler

Michael Gahler is a German diplomat and politician who has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 1999.

He interfered in the Taiwan question, by claiming that Taiwan urgently needs Europe's support and believed that Chinese mainland's policies toward the island were a danger to regional stability. 

He has served as chairman of the "European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group" since June 2019. He led a nine-member delegation from several countries on a visit to Taiwan between September 29 and November 2 in 2019, during which they met Tsai Ing-wen at the "Presidential Office Building" in Taipei, according to Taipei Times. 

Gahler has long supported the separatist Taiwan authority head Tsai in various ways, such as coordinating to sign a joint letter with 137 other European Parliament members congratulating Tsai's "inauguration" in May 2020. 

Raphael Glucksmann

Raphael Glucksmann is a French journalist and political figure and was elected a member of the European Parliament in May 2019. 

Similar to some other EU representatives, Glucksmann spread "concentration camps" rumors alleged to be in Xinjiang, saying that "multiple sources have found evidence that detainees are subjected to forced labor, sterilization and torture." But respective claims have been repeatedly clarified by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Xinjiang local government. 

After the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a list of 83 international retailers that had ties to factories in Xinjiang through their supply chains, Glucksmann launched a campaign on social media where he asked people to boycott those brands. 

Ilhan Kyuchyuk

Ilhan Kyuchyuk, a Bulgarian politician and also a member of the European Parliament, has criticized China's counter-terrorism efforts since February 2017. Kyuchyuk falsely claimed the Chinese government caused an adverse impact on minority groups such as Tibetans and Uygurs and used the policies to minorities as a tool for human rights violations.

On January 19, 2021, he took part in a motion for a resolution on the crackdown on the opposition in Hong Kong submitted to the European Parliament, in which he hopes the European Parliament can "strongly condemn the arrests of 55 Hong Kongers for standing in and organizing elections" and "calls for the immediate release of those arrested.

Miriam Lexmann

Slovakian Members of the European Parliament Miriam Lexmann from the center-right European People's Party has frequently accused China of being "a systematic rival that undermines fundamental values and principles" in its relationship with the EU.

Lexmann instigated the EU to "meaningfully address" what he says China's "human rights violations" in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and blatantly termed China's national security law for Hong Kong as a "legislation directly curtailing the freedoms [the UK] once granted to the citizens of Hong Kong."

Sjoerd Sjoerdsma

Dutch Member of Parliament Sjoerd Sjoerdsma from the coalition D66 party initiated the motion to declare China's policy in Xinjiang as "genocide" in February. He called on the Dutch government to follow suit, and labeled the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang the "the largest mass incarceration of ethnic minorities since World War II" without any solid evidence.

His proposal made the Dutch parliament become the first European legislature to call the China's policies in Xinjiang region "genocide."

Samuel Cogolati

Belgian Federal MP Samuel Cogolati has been a supporter of the so-called "Tibetan government-in-exile," a separatist political organization seeking to achieve "Tibetan independence." He has repeatedly crossed the red line that undermines China's sovereignty by showing support to the 14th Dalai Lama against the Chinese government as well as bringing the discussion of the Uygur "genocide" to the Belgian House for recognition.

Dovile Sakaliene

Lithuanian lawmaker Dovile Sakaliene usually points fingers at the Chinese government's policies in its Xinjiang region with rumors and disinformation. Though he is probably aware of little to nothing about the real situation in Xinjiang, ?akalien? called for the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) in February to conduct an international investigation on the "crimes against humanity and genocide committed by China" on Uygurs.

Sakaliene, as a member and co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an infamous organization consisting of anti-China Western lawmakers, has been maliciously vilifying Xinjiang with sensational accusations including "sexual abuse" and "torturing of millions of people," utilizing Xinjiang as a tool to attract attention in European politics.

Adrian Zenz

German national Adrian Zenz (who calls himself Zheng Guoen in Chinese) is an infamous anti-China pseudo-scholar and a far-right fundamentalist Christian who said he is being "led by God" on a "mission" against China. Zenz also plays the role of a senior fellow in a research group, which was set up by the US intelligence community against the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang.

Zenz has produced multiple sensational "reports" on Xinjiang on social media platforms like Twitter, and fabricated academic research on Xinjiang, in which he spread rumors such as large-scale monitoring of local ethnic minorities and forced labor of the Uygurs.

Zenz's wrongdoings have enraged Xinjiang's citizens. Several local enterprises and individuals are reported to have directed lawyers to sue Zenz over the "forced labor" claims among other rumors he spread, which damaged their reputation and caused them to suffer economic losses.

Bjorn Jerdén

Bjorn Jerdén, Director of Sweden's National China Center, has been found to habitually defame China's human rights policies and democracy in the media. Jerdén prefers to misinterpret the ups and downs in the Sino-Swedish relationship in the past few years purporting the "shortage of democracy" in China and the "tough diplomacy" of the Chinese government.

In an interview with Taiwan-based media CNA, Jerdén irrationally accused the Communist Party of China of "posing a threat to the democracy in the regions" outside the Chinese mainland and encouraged Swedish politicians to communicate more with the island of Taiwan, attempting to further embolden the voices of separatists.

Jerdén has no interest in visiting the Chinese mainland or seeing the real situation there, but is very keen on making judgments on China, said the Chinese Embassy in Sweden in June 2019, after Jerdén once again made irresponsible remarks on China. "...what he said was all absurd claims, and it is using one's own bad motives to judge others," the embassy noted.

Political and Security Committee of the Council of the EU

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the Council of the European Union was seen as an organ of power that initiated the European Union's decision to impose sanctions on Chinese officials, as it is responsible for the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). 

The PSC is composed of member states' ambassadors based in Brussels and is chaired by the representatives from the European External Action Service. 

Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament (DROI)

The subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament (DROI) has made irresponsible remarks on China's internal affairs under the guise of human rights. It frequently hypes false claims including "forced labor" and "mass incarcerations of ethnic minorities" in the Xinjiang region, and maliciously whitewashes the secessionist riots in Hong Kong.

Some DROI members were found publicly referring to Xinjiang as "East Turkistan," a name used by separatist and terrorist forces. Hannah Neumann, a DROI vice-chairman and politician with the German Green Party, echoed secessionist Uygur activists in creating and spreading rumors such as "Uygurs being trapped in concentration camps," and openly clamored for German enterprises to withdraw from Xinjiang to "stand up for human rights," reported Deutsche Welle in December 2019.

Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS)

The Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Germany, once Europe's largest Chinese research center, is a self-claimed independent institute that has actually been colluding with anti-China forces over the years since it was established in 2013.  

Members of MERICS often echo the view of separatist organizations including the notorious World Uyghur Congress (WUC) in slandering China. In a so-called "open letter to Chinese citizens" in April 2020, which was filled with lies and baseless accusations against China's COVID-19 response, MERICS' then analyst Mareike Ohlberg was seen among those on the signature list together with other far-right, anti-China names including WUC members.

MERICS' had once become less vocal in its one-sided criticism of China in 2017, after the Global Times exposed its politicization and lack of objectivity in March that year. Nonetheless, readers still see its personnel attack China on various occasions. In June 2017, MERICS's research director Kristin Shi-Kupfer reportedly openly defamed China's human rights record and its relations with some EU countries, saying China "has often played other states against each other." 

Alliance of Democracies Foundation in Denmark (AoD)

The AoD is a nonprofit organization, with some of the projects running under the Foundation's umbrella funded by several Western governments, including the Government of Canada. 

Human rights in China are frequently discussed at its main conferences. Those conferences have repeatedly invited Hong Kong anti-government forces and the separatist leader of the Taiwan island Tsai Ing-wen to attend to provoke the Chinese mainland.

In a virtual discussion with representatives from the US, Canada and Europe, the institute smeared China, saying the country "tries to yield the world to its distorted narratives" in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Moreover, the organization termed China's legal charge of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig over espionage an "arbitrarily detainment."

These so-called NGOs or think tank research centers which are subject to sanctions are in fact mostly backed by capital from Western countries represented by the US, and they sometimes serve as tools to deliver ideologies and benefit the interests of certain regimes, which have deviated far from what they claimed as "independent," Wang Yiwei, director of the Centre for European Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.