Denmark summons Chinese ambassador over sanctions

Denmark on Tuesday summoned China's ambassador after Beijing sanctioned an organisation founded by a former Danish prime minister in retaliation for EU measures over the crackdown on the Uyghurs, the foreign ministry said.

Denmark summons Chinese ambassador over sanctions
The Chinese Ambassador to Denmark, Feng Tie, at the foreign ministry on Tuesday. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The Chinese envoy met with officials at the Danish foreign ministry and was informed of Denmark’s protest after China slapped “a number of European individuals and organisations” with sanctions, the ministry said.

“When China sanctions free, critical European politicians, institutions and dissidents, merely for having been critical against China, it is a clear attack on citizens’ freedom of expression in Europe and Denmark,” foreign minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement.

On Monday, the EU, Britain, US and Canada unveiled coordinated sanctions targeting Chinese officials accused of involvement in the persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Beijing snapped back immediately, announcing entry bans on 10 Europeans — including five members of the European Parliament — as well as two EU bodies and two think-tanks.

The list included the non-profit Alliance of Democracies, founded by Anders Fogh Rasmussen — who served as Denmark’s prime minister between 2001 and 2009 after which he became Secretary General of NATO.

Kofod also stressed that the Chinese sanctions were different from those of the EU.

“Let me emphasise that the EU’s sanctions only affect Chinese officials who are directly responsible for gross human rights violations,” Kofod said.

Belgium, France and Lithuania have also summoned China’s ambassadors in their respective countries to protest.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in China’s northwestern region, where Beijing is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

The Chinese government has strongly denied the allegations and says training programmes, work schemes and better education have helped stamp out extremism in the region.

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Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing

Germany said on Monday it had summoned the Belarusian ambassador over the forced landing of an airliner and detention of a critical journalist.

Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing
A woman stands with a poster reading 'Where is Roman (Protasevich)?!' in the arrival area as passengers disembark from a Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was intercepted and diverted to Minsk on the same day by Belarus authorities. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP

“The explanations of the Belarusian government for the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk are absurd and not credible,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

“We need clarity on what really happened on board and on the ground,” he added, saying that ambassador Denis Sidorenko was expected at his ministry Monday evening.

Maas said Berlin also expected “clarity about the wellbeing” of the detained journalist, Roman Protasevich, and his girlfriend, saying both “must
be released immediately”.

He said a senior official at the ministry, Miguel Berger, would meet with Sidorenko, while EU leaders debate “consequences” at a summit in Brussels.

The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying Protasevich was diverted while in Belarusian airspace over a supposed bomb threat.

Accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet on the orders of strongman Alexander Lukashenko, the plane landed in Minsk where Protasevich, a
26-year-old who had been living in Lithuania, was arrested along with his Russian girlfriend.