The British Embassy is shown in the distance through a closed metal gate with a Chinese paramilitary police officer standing guard.

A Chinese paramilitary police officer stands guard outside the British Embassy in Beijing, March 26, 2021.

Credit:

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

China on Friday imposed sanctions on several UK members of Parliament and British organizations. It's seen as a retaliation over the UK’s recent move to join the European Union in sanctioning Chinese officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

The sanctions, which ban the group from traveling to China and freeze their assets in the country, are largely symbolic and come after the US and Canada also levied sanctions on Chinese officials over Xinjiang. China has called reasoning for the sanctions “lies and disinformation.” Several  Western countries have described the human rights abuses against Uyghurs as genocide.

The newly announced sanctions follow similar measures China imposed on the European Union and reflect China's increasingly tough diplomacy under nationalist leader Xi Jinping.

What The World is following

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed released a statement Friday suggesting Eritrea has agreed to withdraw troops from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The announcement comes as the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said it will work with the United Nations to investigate reports of killing and raping of civilians, among other human rights violations in Tigray. Ethiopia has come under pressure from Western governments for an alleged massacre in November last year that Human Rights Watch said included summary executions and the killing of children in the historic town of Axum.

And China has released its official view of the COVID-19 origins before an official World Health Organization report that is expected to be released later on Friday. The move appeared to be an attempt at getting the Chinese government version out ahead of the much delayed WHO report that stems out of an investigation that took place in Wuhan in February. The WHO’s investigation has been criticized by the United States and others for coming under the influence of Beijing.

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In case you missed it

Listen: Public health experts push to end an unfair border policy

A group of men stand behind a fenced area within a detention center at the border.

In this July 12, 2019 file photo, men stand in a US Immigration and Border Enforcement detention center in McAllen, Texas, during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence. 

Credit:

Josh Dawsey/Pool/File/The Washington Post via AP

When the pandemic first hit, the Trump administration used a policy called Title 42 to justify its tightening of the southern border. Plenty of critics including public health experts say the policy doesn't have a science-based approach. And India is now dealing with a surge in COVID-19 infections, this time with a new variant. Also, H&M faces calls for a boycott in China after the company spoke out about Uyghur human rights abuses and concerns over forced labor in the production of cotton in Xinjiang province.

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