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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison: If Canberra follows allies in adopting Magnitsky-style sanctions, it could create yet another flashpoint in the countries' tense ties.   © Nikkei montage/Source photo by Getty Images
Asia Insight

Australia pressed to dispense 'bitter pill' Xinjiang sanctions

Morrison faces calls to match allies' Magnitsky laws but risks China backlash

ERIC MEIJER, Contributing writer | Australia

SYDNEY -- Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old Russian lawyer who blew the whistle on $230 million worth of alleged tax fraud, died in November 2009 after 358 days in squalid Moscow jails. His death has been attributed to torture at worst and neglect of his deteriorating health at best.

To this day, no one has been found legally responsible. But Magnitsky's name has become synonymous with international efforts to hold officials of authoritarian regimes accountable for human rights abuses and corruption. Since the U.S. implemented the first "Magnitsky Act" in December 2012 -- empowering Washington to ban alleged abusers from banking or setting foot on American soil -- governments including Canada, the U.K. and the European Union have followed suit.

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