UK parliament says China is committing genocide against Uighurs

UK parliament says China is committing genocide against Uighurs
The UK parliament has passed a non-binding motion describing China's human rights abuses against Uighurs as genocide amid mounting international pressure on Beijing.
2 min read
23 April, 2021
The motion could further weaken UK-China ties [Getty]
The UK parliament approved a motion on Thursday stating that China is committing genocide against the Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province.

The motion passed by MPs is non-binding on the UK government, but indicates Britain will take a harder stance on China, in line with the United States which has also deemed China's policies as genocide, and other European countries. 

Nigel Adams, the UK's Asia minister, said there was credible evidence of forced labour, internment camps, and targeting of ethnic minorities by the Chinese government, The Guardian reported.

Alhough Adams said Beijing's actions are a clear and systematic abuse of human rights, he added that the UK’s longstanding position was that determining genocide is for “competent national and international courts."

Nusrat Ghani MP, the author of the parliamentary motion and former Conservative minister, highlighted that genocide is intent to "destroy in whole or in part" a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

"All five criteria of genocide are evidenced as taking place in Xinjiang," she said.

“The work does not stop here. We cannot continue business as usual with China while these atrocities continue. The government must now act urgently to ensure our supply chains are not tainted by goods made with Uighur forced labour.”

Read more: Why the Uighur genocide in China matters

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith praised the vote as "a historic moment" that unites the UK with Holland, Canada and the United States over this issue. 

US Senator Bob Menendez said the UK parliament had “shone a light on the egregious abuses the Chinese state commits against the Uyghur people. The free world must be united in holding the Chinese government to account for these abuses.”

However, Beijing’s embassy in the UK accused the MPs of having “cooked up” the motion “with a view to discrediting and attacking China”.

It said claims of genocide in Xinjiang were “the most preposterous lie of the century, an outrageous insult and affront to the Chinese people, and a gross breach of international law and the basic norms governing international relations”.

Britain has faced domestic pressure to condemn China's abuses of the Uighur Muslims. In April last year, laywers and activists filed a 60-page document to the government, which made a legal case for Britain to ban importing Chinese cotton, due to forced Uighur labour in its production. 

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