BRITAIN is on the brink of a cold war with China after it slapped sanctions on MPs and peers who have criticised its human rights abuses.
The dramatic escalation came as Beijing imposed travel bans on nine people, including former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
Their crime is accusing the Communist superpower of genocide against the Muslim Uighur population in Xinjiang.
Boris Johnson, who discussed the situation last night with US President Joe Biden, backed their right to speak out, saying he “stands firmly” with those who have been targeted.
Sir Iain insisted he would wear the sanctions as a badge of honour while fellow MP Nusrat Ghani said she would not be intimidated into silence.
Beijing retaliated after Britain, the US, Canada and the EU introduced restrictions on Monday on Chinese officials responsible for abuses in the country’s autonomous province.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain would “not be deterred from speaking up” and called for China to allow UN human rights inspectors into Xinjiang to verify the truth.
The Chinese Ambassador’s mission was hauled into the Foreign Office to explain their decision.
The PM insisted those sanctioned “are performing a vital role shining a light on the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uighurs”.
He added: “Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental.”
A million-plus Uighurs are held in work camps without trial amid claims of torture, rape and sterilisations but the Chinese called this “lies of the century”.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee and among those banned, said the actions were those of a “vulnerable and weak” state.
Five Tory MPs and two peers were named by China along with Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, from the Uighur Tribunal, and academic Jo Smith Finley, who is studying Uighurs.
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