Thank you to those who have contacted me about the senior Chinese official Chen Quanguo and the treatment of Tibetan and Uyghurs minority groups.
The situation in Xinjiang is of deep concern and the UK regularly makes representations on this issue. The Foreign Secretary was right to call for UN Human Rights inspectors to be given access to Xinjiang, during his speech at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 22 February.
China has so far refused to engage in these efforts, but I know that Ministers and UK officials will continue to lead the international effort to bring about such access and hold China to account.
The UK Government announced sanctions on 22 March 2021 against four senior Chinese officials and one entity, The Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which is held responsible for systematic violations of the human rights of the Uyghur people.
The Government keeps all evidence and potential listing under close review and ministers are aware of calls for specific measures against Chen Quanguo.
The UK Government is taking a number of other steps, including via the Modern Slavery Act, to ensure no British organisation is allowed to profit from forced labour or contribute to human rights violations in China. These measures include:
- guidance to UK firms on risks faced by companies linked to Xinjiang;
- fines for companies who fail to meet their transparency obligations;
- extending such obligations to the public sector, and banning any company found profiting from forced labour from all Government procurement;
- an urgent review into all export controls to Xinjiang, ensuring that no UK exports are in any way contributing to human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other minorities in China.
In his statement of 22 March, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the evidence
pointing to a highly disturbing programme of repression in China’s Xinjiang province and the targeting of specific ethnic groups.
Expressions of religion have been criminalised, and Uyghur language and culture discriminated against on a systematic scale. There is widespread use of forced labour; women forcibly sterilised; children separated from their parents; an entire population subject to surveillance, including collection of DNA and use of facial recognition software and so-called predictive policing algorithms.
State control in the region is systemic. Over 1 million people are believed to have been detained without trial. There are widespread claims of torture and rape in the camps based on first-hand survivor testimony.
When several of my Parliamentary colleagues spoke out against these abuses, they were banned from travelling to China by the Chinese Government. I regard this as an insult to all British people and an attack on our democratic principles.
China must face up to international pressure and allow UN Human Rights inspections as a matter of urgency.