Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK. Recently in a spat with the UK's TV presenter Andrew Marr over blindfolded and shackled prisoner moving in Xinjiang.
Petition Provokes UK Debate
Following a petition launched in July which attracted almost 150,000 signatures from around the world, demanding the UK impose sanctions on China, the matter was eventually debated in Parliament on October 12th.
Pressure had been mounting in the meantime with a cross-party letter to the Chinese ambassador in London, signed by 130 MPs and peers, accusing Beijing of a “systematic and calculated programme of ethnic cleansing” against the country’s Uighur Muslim minority. Signatories including the newly-elected Lib Dem leader, Tom Tugendhat, the influential chairman of the Commons’ foreign affairs select committee, and Lord Dannatt, the former head of Britain’s armed forces,
During the debate over sanctions, the UK government expressed abhorrence at China's human rights record in Xinjiang but fell short of agreeing to impose concrete penalties in the shape of Magnitsky sanctions.
Further significant UK government enquiries launched
September 16th saw the launch of a Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry chaired by Tom Tugendhat MP, into how the UK government can prevent UK companies from benefiting from forced labour in Xinjiang, support members of the Uyghur diaspora community, and strengthen the Government’s, and particularly the FCDO’s, atrocity prevention mechanisms. (https://committees.parliament.uk/work/564/xinjiang-detention-camps/news/119049/committee-launches-new-inquiry-on-xinjiang-detention-camps/)
Whilst in a parallel thrust, a further committee, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee announced on September 18th an evidence hearing, likely to take place in November, which will explore the extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.
BEIJING IS HELD TO ACCOUNT
July 31st saw the US sanction the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan) and two of its officials for their connection to serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang. "We call upon the world to join us in condemning the CCP's heinous abuse of the human rights of its own citizens," tweeted Secretary Mike Pompeo.
CHINA VERSUS THE USA-ESCALATING TENSIONS
Escalation of tensions over Xinjiang between Beijing and the US was well documented on August 1st, by Forbes detailing the background to new evidence emerging of atrocities concerning the Uyghurs.
August 4th 2020 saw the human rights group Investors for Human Rights, issue guidance for brands connected to the Uyghur region.
https://investorsforhumanrights.org/news/new-investor-guidance-cites-human-rights-risks-brands-relationships-connected-uyghur-region and on August 18th the group urged investors to pull their money out of companies that have links with China’s ongoing campaign of detention and forced labor in the northwestern region of Xinjiang
Calls were also renewed in the States to expedite the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law, to build on the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act that was passed in May this year.
The bill requires corporations that manufacture products in Xinjiang to prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that no forced labor was used in their creation before the products may be imported to the United States.