Global democracies push back at China’s red lines

G7 nations and allies target President Xi’s ruling Communist Party after Beijing unveils Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law

Rising tension continues to plague relations between China and the United States, threatening trade ties and alleviating human rights issues backed by Washington’s allies.

Earlier this week, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress rushed through legislation that will ban multinational companies from complying with foreign sanctions against China.

The news broke just hours before human rights group Amnesty International released a report, accusing President Xi Jinping’s ruling Communist Party of creating “a dystopian hellscape” for ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang.

It also came as pressure mounted on Beijing to allow a second investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019. 

On Thursday, the European Union joined the US and the United Kingdom in calls for an independent investigation into the origins of SAR-Cov-2. Faced with a backlash from major democratic nations across the world, China has resorted to coercion.

“The law precisely and effectively targets those who have taken unilateral sanctions in hurting China’s interests [and will] have [a] strong deterrent effect,” Huo Zhengxin, of the China University of Political Science and Law, told the state-run Global Times.

Key points:

  • China’s de factor parliament passed the sweeping Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law this week.
  • It is aimed at stopping global companies from complying with foreign legislation that targets the world’s second-largest economy.
  • It will also ease pressure on Chinese companies hit by a raft of overseas sanctions on national security grounds and human rights abuses.
  • The move came before Amnesty International revealed that China is still committing crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.
  • In a major report, Amnesty called on the United Nations to investigate allegations that Beijing had subjected Uyghurs and other Muslims to mass detention and torture.
  • At least one million Muslims have reportedly been held in detention camps in Xinjiang.
  • China has denied the allegations, calling them “lies.”
  • Xi’s government is also facing a global pushback on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, which first surfaced in Wuhan.

Delve deeper: There are plans to set up a D10 grouping of democratic nations to replace the G7 of advanced economies. The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US have been holding a summit this week in the Cornish resort of Carbis Bay in England. Representatives from the European Union were also present. 

Big idea: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that India, South Korea and Australia should join the proposed D10 to combat authoritarian regimes such as China.

It takes two to tango: “Chinese diplomacy will not dance [to] the rhythm of others. Nor will it sit idle when its core interests are impaired. Those that hurt China will pay a heavy price,” Gao Jian, of the Shanghai International Studies University, wrote in a commentary for the state-run Chinese media, condemning the D10 concept.

Human rights: China and leading democracies have been locked in a war of wars over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims and the pro-democracy clampdown in Hong Kong.

Brainwashing: Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, has spoken about China creating “a dystopian hellscape on a staggering scale.” She said: “It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps.”

Western lies: “China has nothing to hide on Xinjiang. We welcome everyone to visit Xinjiang, but we oppose any kind of investigation based on lies and with the presumption of guilt,” Guo Jiakun, who is part of China’s United Nations delegation, said last month.

Virus cover-up: The European Union has joined Australia, the UK and the US in calling for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19. “The world has the right to know exactly what happened in order to be able to learn the lessons,” Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, said in a statement. 

Forget it: China has rejected similar moves after the World Health Organization carried out an investigation in Wuhan earlier this year. The findings by the WHO were inconclusive.

China Factor comment: The D10 concept would fit into Washington’s plan to build a coalition of the willing to uphold democratic values. It would also combat moves by the Communist Party of China to push its own ideological model.