On Thursday Jul 8th, the British government was urged by a group of lawmakers to take tougher action against China. Such a stance is over China’s alleged treatment of minority groups. The action includes a cotton trade ban and partial Winter Olympics boycott.
The British parliament’s foreign affairs committee made a report after an inquiry into the accusations. The inquiry took a few months to complete. The report recommends exploring the feasibility of an International Criminal Court probe into the alleged crimes. China faces allegations over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The UK government was also called to accept the view of the members of parliament expressed in a symbolic vote in April. The vote calls to take stronger action “to bring these crimes to an end”. The foreign affairs committee is of the belief minority groups in China are suffering genocide and crimes against humanity.
UK government must pressure on China on human rights issue
Britain is sought by the cross-party group to use every diplomatic lever to pressure Beijing to allow international observers into China. In particular, the group wants the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to have access to the Xinjiang region.
The group also supports a fast-track asylum process for those wanting to avoid persecution in the region. They propose working in partnership with Western allies to form “sanctuary states” for those who seek asylum.
Ahead of the report’s release, committee member Alicia Kearns said “It’s time for big boy politics.”
“We are the mother of all parliaments. If we are not willing to speak up for those who others seek to silence, then what parliament’s going to do it?”
At least 1 million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be in concentration in camps in Xinjiang. Such camps are accused of imposing forced labour on the Uyghurs and sterilising the women against their will. This information is from various rights groups.
Beijing denies all allegations
All allegations of abuses are denied by Beijing. Also, the Chinese government insists that the policies in place in Xinjiang are necessary to counter violent extremism.
The foreign affairs committee’s report is titled “Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond”. It is a 37-page report where the British MPs’ insist that the “truly horrifying” crimes taking place are “an international call to action”.
Group targeting the 2022 Winter Olympics
The report contains a list of recommended actions to the situation in Xinjang. One action calls for the UK to ensure that Beijing faces consequences when it hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The committee wants British ministers and dignitaries to skip the opening and closing ceremonies. Also, it discourages British businesses from sponsoring or advertising at the games. Lastly, it encourages British fans and tourists to stay away from attending the games.
When asked about such possible moves, Johnson said on Wednesday he would consider the calls. However, Johnson is “instinctively” against sporting boycotts.
Meanwhile the report also urges the government to explore a ban on certain products from China. It suggests a ban on the import of all cotton products linked to Xinjiang. The Xinjiang region is responsible to supply the vast majority of China’s cotton exports.
Another course of action by the group is to forbid certain companies trading with China to operate in Britain. For instance, the report wants surveillance companies like Hikvision to be forbidden from operating in Britain. Hikvision is an international Chinese company that provides surveillance equipment to the Chinese detention camps. It has more than 42,000 employees globally, and has offices in the UK.
“We still have time to make these choices, and if we choose not to, what we’re doing is nesting the dragon deeper and deeper into our national life,” committee chair Tom Tugendhat said.
Various US sanctions already in effect
The United States has long accused Beijing of genocide in Xinjiang. As a result, the US already has imposed various trade sanctions targeting producers and users of cotton from China. Also, there are sanctions on tomato products and hair products such as weaves originating from the Xinjiang region as well.
Last month the US also banned imports of solar panel materials from a Chinese company. Also, it is placing restrictions on four others for alleged use of forced labour in Xinjiang.
8th July 2021 23:00
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