china sanctions

Too late.

Essex Court Chambers has distanced itself from an opinion which resulted in China imposing sanctions on the set.

Essex Court is one of ten UK-based organisations and individuals targeted by China for spreading "lies and disinformation" about human rights atrocities in Xinjiang.

A 105 page opinion produced by four Essex Court human rights lawyers for The Global Legal Action Network, a non profit group, concluded that there was "a very credible case" that "crimes against humanity" were being committed against the Uyghur population in China's Xinjiang region, including "enslavement, torture, rape, enforced sterilisation and persecution, and the crime of genocide".

The opinion recommended national governments take "urgent action to prevent the ongoing atrocities", including imposing sanctions on individual suspects.

Instead, China imposed sanctions on them. The country claims that re-education centres in the region are for terrorists and that Xinjiang is free from repression, despite evidence to the contrary.

Its measures prevent Essex Court's members from visiting China and freezes any assets they may have in the country. Although largely symbolic, the sanctions may complicate the question of whether to instruct the set for some organisations, by marking it out as a sinner in the eyes of Beijing.

Essex Court attempted to limit the damage with a statement which noted that its barristers were justified in writing the opinion, and also noted at somewhat greater length that the rest of the chambers really had nothing to with it. "These four individuals were providing independent legal advice in accordance with their professional obligations", the set stated, but, "Essex Court Chambers is not a law firm and has no collective or distinct legal identity of any kind", and, "Members of chambers are self-employed sole practitioners each regulated in their own capacity as separate individuals".

Alas, Beijing did not immediately rescind its punishment, and over the weekend all six members of the set's independent Singapore branch, Essex Court Chambers Duxton, announced they were leaving, along with Jern-Fei Ng QC, a senior commercial barrister whose practice focuses on Asia.

Optimistic clerks subsequently deleted the sole mention of the opinion on Essex Court's website, but the reaction from China suggests the concession will not appease Xi Jinping. The Chinese Communist Party tabloid, Global Times, quoted Chinese academics who warned that "the removal of the reference from Essex Court Chambers’ website is far from enough", and crowed that the punishment had, "exposed that the individuals and entities under the sanctions are merely pawns who blindly followed the anti-China forces led by the US to defame China".

Essex Court would not say whether it stood by the opinion, which is not an unusual response once China flexes its muscles. Law firms fearful of China's prickly attitude towards Hong Kong hastily amended their websites in 2019 to remove the impression that they may have regarded it as an independent territory. Even Skadden, which initially held fast, has now quietly removed 'Hong Kong' from the 'country' field of its Hong Kong office entry.

Tip Off ROF


nickv 01 April 21 08:35

"These four individuals was providing independent legal advice in accordance with their professional obligations", the set stated".

Maybe China doesn't have that much to worry about after all if the Opinion is as well-written as this.

Anonymous 01 April 21 10:56

I think it is disgusting they have tried to distance themselves from the opinion. Surely they should be backing the 4 individuals!?

"Oh I am so sorry that we pointed out your human rights violations. Please could you keep giving us work if we don't tell anyone else?"

Anonymous 01 April 21 10:59

Skadden is a hypocrite. On their homepage, they state "Skadden unequivocally denounces such violence, racism and bigotry in all forms." yet have done their best to keep China happy while ignoring the human rights atrocities. 


Alas 01 April 21 11:37

And here it is Ladies and Gentlemen, all of that woke diversity pushing uncovered for what it really is. An absolute load of virtue signalling horse ****. What good is your diversity statement on your law firm website if you fail to condemn, and actively do business with entities committing genocide against an ethnic minority?

"Oh yes Mr Xi, we'll gladly further your agenda and turn a blind eye to the genocide if you promise to keep sending us those lovely fat Chinese infrastructure projects". 

Anonymous 01 April 21 12:38

F*ck Xi Jinping and f*ck his dictatorship, fascism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, mass incarceration and killing-on-demand for organs.

Everyone should be shouting about this from the rooftops. Let them blacklist all of us, rather than be quislings to this horror unfolding in front of us. 

Pampered Millenial 01 April 21 12:56

"And here it is Ladies and Gentlemen, all of that woke diversity pushing uncovered for what it really is."

Er, obviously. Where have you been for the last few months Grandad?

There's no social media glamour to be had posting tweets about actual genocide in China. It's miles away. Talking about that wouldn't make me look like a brave, radical, activist who was valiantly striving to overthrow the evil fascist tories currently oppressing me and my mates. 

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to hoot about reclaiming some of the world's safest streets from the institutional racism that is currently rife in one of the most diverse and tolerant countries in the world.

I'm so courageous that I'm heading out armed only with a selfie-stick.

Anonymous 01 April 21 15:02

Glad the set removed all mention of the report and declined to stand by its members’ work. A brave and sensible stance - there’s gold in them thar’ re-education camps!

Anonymous 01 April 21 15:08

It is fascinating how many of the same big US firms which adorned their home pages with proud statements of support for the Asian community following the massacre in the US have been very, very, very quiet - silent, in fact - when it comes to the genocide of Asian people in China.

I wonder if it’s because it’s easier and cheaper to condemn a vague idea of white supremacy than a regime that could impact on billings. Who knows! 🤷‍♀️

Anonymous 01 April 21 16:02

If only we were still in the EU eh?

You don't see any barristers chambers in the world's biggest and most powerful trading block being subjected to sanctions by China, do you?

But instead we've chosen to be maggots on the World Stage, friendless and trampled on by the mighty powers of the globe. Slapped in the face and there's nothing we can do about it.

This kind of thing is exactly why we, and Essex Court, are an international laughing stock.

Farang 01 April 21 16:21

'If only we were still in the EU eh? '

Maybe - the PRC is certainly picking on the smaller outliers - but EU individuals are also being sanctioned. 

I doubt any law firm with offices in HK and the mainland will stand up to China. 

Anonymous 01 April 21 16:37

In fact, note that the EU is so mighty and righteous that it has managed to conclude a trade deal with China while we, puny weakling UK (England), are getting slapped with sanctions by it.

Just think about it. If we were still in the club of twenty-seven democratic nations that acts as a beacon of democracy and virtue to the world then we'd be benefiting from lucrative trade deals with a genocidal state instead of being sanctioned for trying to stand up to it.

That's the kind of vast global influence and moral authority that we've just willingly thrown away.


They're first in line for the groundbreaking Sputnik vaccine too, if you hadn't noticed. Soon to be Russia's most valuable customer (for that and gas). 

All just another benefit of being the World's undisputed preeminent superpower. Which we left voluntarily.

Lydia 01 April 21 20:43

Wow, dreadful of Essex Court and achieved nothing in terms of the Chinese backing off. We need to stop kow towing to China.


Cancel culture alive and well at Essex Court

AbsurdinessBrown 02 April 21 08:11

More nonsense about China. There were decades of anti-German propaganda before WWI. This is just the beginning of same. 

Once Wall Street lost control of the Soviet Union that also got flogged in the press. 

Even if you accept it as true that the Chinese are doing these things, what on earth does it have to do with anyone else?

How is Joe Bloggs in Middleton, Wagga Wagga, Dunedin, Calgary etc benefiting by being told to hate China? 

Anonymous 02 April 21 09:57

It wasn't that long ago that Britain was doing the same.  Certainly in the 1950s.

There are plenty of books about it.  Here are reviews of just two, both well worth a read.

It will also understand why Britain is not seen by those it colonised as the great civilising force it likes to imagine itself to be.

Anonymous 02 April 21 10:25

For what it's worth I think his review of Britain's Gulag is unfair.  Perhaps listening to the voices of the interned women doesn't suit his view of history.

Whatever you think of her writing style (and I thought it was a great read) it's clear that the UK is not and has never been in a place to take the moral high ground.  It's greatest triumph has been concealing the scale of its wickedness from its own people, much like the United States.

Anonymous 02 April 21 13:23

There is a new story about the Uighur experience which speaks to the internment period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally Uighur people transformed themselves into a re-modelled China.

So that's alright then.

After all, if it's good enough for the UK in the race report it's surely good enough for China.

There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain.

King George 03 April 21 11:14

What sickens me are the keyboard warriors, piling in on Essex Court, which has acted correctly throughout.

Meanwhile lots of prestigious firms have quietly withdrawn all instructions to Essex Court barristers due to pressure from China. They are the cowards if you are looking to slag off anyone. They are the ones actually damaging these barristers.

Some people here delight in moralistic posturing from a safe and anonymous position. In this case they even attack the victims whose careers are being wrecked by a cruel and brutal regime. Yeah, pile in on the victims, like you are some sort of moral giant. How very woke of you.

Queen Elizabeth 03 April 21 14:37

@King George

Why is condemning the chambers mutually exclusive to condemning the firms?

Anonymous 04 April 21 07:51

It's funny.  The UK interned, tortured and murdered thousands in Kenya within living memory and drawing attention to that is downvoted.

The way the British see themselves bears very little relation to the way it is seen overseas.

Still when you government depends on a population easily distracted by confected outrage and arguments over trivia (statues, the National Trust, flags etc) it's not surprising that population loses all sense of perspective.

AbsurdinessBrown 04 April 21 13:40

Human rights has nothing to do with it, Arachnae. 

But you know that, don't you?

Anonymous 06 April 21 02:54

All of the Muslim countries supported china's policies in Xinjiang after sending people there to see. Yet UK and EU based their sanction on their china bias and the babbling of a German who's never set foot in China and a bunch of separationists/terrorists. And when China strike back, they started whining like a 9 year old school girl.

By the way, who put UK(the country started two wars against China because China wouldn't allow UK opium smuggler to sell opium freely in China) on the moral highland over China? 

Anonymous 06 April 21 11:38

Which "all of the Muslim countries"?

Can you link to where this has been reported or stated?

Anonymous 06 April 21 11:46

By the way, who put UK(the country started two wars against China because China wouldn't allow UK opium smuggler to sell opium freely in China) on the moral highland over China? 

I might be wrong but I'm not sure that you can hold Essex Court Chambers responsible for this.

Paul 06 April 21 16:17

Barristers getting thrown under the bus appears to be a worrying new trend.  I'm thinking also of Alison Bailey and Jon Houlbrook.  Whether or not you agree with their views is hardly the point.

I wonder what William Garrow would make of it all?

WLau 06 April 21 19:43

Shame about these lawyers, never been to China, but to expressed their opinions based on moron American lies to discredit theChinese while making millions from China. Good job China well done to standup to the west

Anonymously 06 April 21 22:05

The Chinese Communist Party’s response to criticism is to cause harm. This is not how a trusted, decent state behaves. This is how gangsters behave.  Unless we are prepared to accept the economic fall out from standing up to the Chinese Communist Party, their approach to fundamental freedoms and basic human rights will worsen and their global influence will continue to increase, fuelling their expansionist plans. This is an increasingly dangerous situation and governments, businesses, and individuals around the world have a part to play. We must be prepared to sacrifice smaller short term economic gains in order to safeguard basic human rights, freedoms and normal/free trade. Another small battle has been sadly lost here. It is chilling that freedom of speech in the UK has already been affected to the extent that it has impacted our legal justice system. We should be in no doubt that allowing the CCP to grow will further reduce our freedoms in the UK, and everywhere else. Governments around the world need to collectively cut imports from China and impose much wider trade sanctions. Individuals and businesses need to stop buying products and services from China and lobby their governments to act. We need to be prepared for some financial disruption to help protect basic freedoms, human rights and future trade in the UK and the rest of the world. 

Anonymous 07 April 21 08:10

I think we should start a petition that the next James Bond film deals with China.

These people need to know who they're up against.

Anonymous 07 April 21 09:53

Good job China well done to standup to the west

This isn't standing up to the West.  This is preventing a tiny group of people from expressing an opinion that the Chinese don't like.

Don't pretend it's laudable or a great strike for liberation.  It's the action of a dictatorship.

Anonymous 07 April 21 09:56

My dad says James Bond can fly any aircraft, use any weapon, knows karate and has had an erection since 1962.

Those Chinese are in for a world of hurt.


Anonymous 07 April 21 11:53

Anonymous 07 April 21 08:10

I think we should start a petition that the next James Bond film deals with China.


Why not make it a crossover with Ethan Hunt and Tintin.

No-one could stand up to those three.

99Percent 08 April 21 06:00

Where were you all when HK and Chinese officials were sanctioned for HK police doing their jobs to suppress violent rioters who inflicted massive damage, vandalism, arson, disturbance to HK, not to mention throwing molotov cocktails at police and business that didnt agree with their “if we burn, you brun with me” views? HK police tactics were no more severe than UK police and definitely much much less so than US ones.

The lawyers explicitly said the “evidence” presented by ASPI and Zenz played a prominent role in their conclusion. Both parties used dubious “research methods”, especially Zenz who simply extracted phrases and figures from various reports to construct a narrative that cannot be further from facts in the original documents.

Go google “WMD” and “Nariyah testimony”. US didnt even bother updating the script!

Anonymous 08 April 21 15:45

Where were you all when 

This is a comment column on a news website.  Are you suggesting no-one has the right to an opinion or to make a comment unless they've previous acted in a way that gets your approval.

The Chinese government have acted like autocrats.  Some people commenting on a news site have said so.  Take your moral high ground and grow some potatoes on it.

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