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Barristers in retreat on lies over Uygurs

By XIN ZHIMING and BO LEUNG in London | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-30 04:46

British set of chambers removes claim on Xinjiang conditions from website

Essex Court Chambers, a set of barristers' chambers in the United Kingdom, has removed a reference to a legal opinion from its website that accused China of persecuting Uygurs in its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The move was made after China announced on Friday it was imposing sanctions on nine individuals and four entities in the UK, including Essex Court Chambers, for spreading "lies and disinformation "about human rights in Xinjiang.

Essex Court Chambers issued a statement on Friday that it had not meant to spread lies and disinformation. The four relevant individuals of the chambers are "self-employed sole practitioners each regulated in their own capacity" and they have provided "independent legal advice in accordance with their professional obligations and qualifications", it said.

Earlier, a legal opinion by senior barristers at Essex Court Chambers, commissioned by The Global Action Network, had claimed, in the same tone as that of some Western politicians and media outlets, that there was a "very credible case" that China's government was committing genocide against the Uygurs.

China said the claimants had failed to provide solid proof and simply resorted to fabrications to attack the country in order to contain its normal development. It has listed many facts and figures, such as the much higher economic growth rate in Xinjiang, compared with the national growth rate, and the much faster population growth of Uygurs in Xinjiang compared with the Han Chinese population in the same region, to refute the accusations.

Norms breached

"This move is based on nothing but lies and disinformation, and flagrantly breaches international law and basic norms governing international relations," a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

A senior Asian barrister has left Essex Court Chambers after Beijing announced the imposition of sanctions.

Members of the Essex Court Chambers said Ng Jern-fei will be joining 7 Bedford Row barristers' chambers after almost 18 years at Essex Court.

He specializes in commercial litigation and arbitration, with experience of appearing before courts and tribunals and sitting as an arbitrator in different jurisdictions.

According to The Global Legal Post, Ng became a silk in 2018 at the age of 38, making him one of the youngest Queen's Counsels to be appointed in recent years.

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