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.