China is expected to announce a “tough economic sanctions” package, according to Chinese media reports, in an attempt to stifle Western criticism of its human rights record.
Key points:Reports say the sanctions will be aimed at limiting Western influence in ChinaThe sanctions could include a ban on Western companies from buying Chinese goodsChina is expected, at the earliest, to announce the sanctions on Monday.
The move is believed to be part of a concerted effort to keep pressure on Western governments over the treatment of dissidents and activists in the country.
“China is planning a tough economic sanctions package that will be announced soon,” the official Xinhua news agency said.
“It’s part of the country’s strategic strategy to keep the pressure on the United States and other countries.”
Chinese media have previously reported that the sanctions were due to be unveiled on Monday, with some reports suggesting it could be announced before the end of the week.
The reports came as the United Nations called on China to take urgent steps to protect rights of its citizens.
The U.N. human rights council has expressed concern over China’s record on freedom of expression, and the recent killing of a US citizen, Robert Fisk, who had criticised Beijing’s human rights policies.
China has also been subject to intense criticism for its treatment of rights defenders, including its long-standing practice of jailing critics and journalists.
The report said Beijing was “preparing to announce sanctions against Western companies and individuals” if the US retaliated by restricting business with companies with links to the U.S. and the EU.
Chinese media quoted an unnamed Chinese official as saying the sanctions would “target Western companies that operate in China, including US and EU companies”.
“We will make use of the measures to limit the influence of Western companies, and it’s likely that they will be applied to companies in the Chinese domestic market,” the source said.
Western companies have been criticised for links to Beijing, which denies accusations that it exerts undue influence on the country, including by restricting foreign direct investment and political speech.
China is a key economic and political player in the Asia-Pacific region, with a massive $US1 trillion ($1.8 trillion) trade with the U:A report from the Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this year found that the country has the highest level of arbitrary detention and extrajudicial executions in the world, with the death penalty used on at least two people each day in 2016.