UN alleges possible ‘crime against humanity’ in China


Un report published on 1 September 2022 suggests that China may be committing genocide in Xinxiang province

The BBC today discussed the UN report which describes in great detail, the use of torture, sexual violence and arbitrary detention of the Uyghur population in China. This abuse, which they believe is a possible crime against humanity, has been widely reported around the world and is a huge stain on the Chinese state. Around a million Uyghurs are held in so-called re-education centres and are forced to work picking cotton for example, some of which is believed to used in garments in the UK. Photographs show these establishments surrounded by barbed wire with watchtowers. The release of files last year revealed instructions to the guards should a Uyghur try to escape: if the warning shots did not work then the instructions were shoot to kill.

The Chinese government refutes the allegations and a lengthy report is attached to the UN report. It is described as ‘disinformation’ and a ‘farce’. The BBC interviewed someone representing the Chinese point of view. It was not very enlightening and consisted of a flat denial of the allegations. He also claimed, falsely, that delegations have visited the area and this was not picked up by the interviewer. Allow unfettered access could do a great deal to answer the allegations if they were untrue. The main claim for the actions the government is taking is that it is to tackle ‘terrorism, extremism and radicalisation’. These claims are extremely exaggerated and do not justify the scale of abuse foisted on the Uyghur people.

The World Uyghur Congress welcomed the report but claims it does not go far enough. They urge western governments to do more to challenge the Chinese for their activities in Xinjiang. Amnesty described the report as a ‘game changer’.

One interesting aspect to the BBC interview was the fact that several countries sought to stop the report being published. The Chinese interviewee was vague about this matter and the interviewer wondered if the UK government was one of them. The question was left hanging.

Attitudes towards China have changed in recent years. In the UK, the desperate desire by the then prime minister David Cameron and the Chancellor, George Osborne to forge close relationships with the country now look a little forlorn. Predictions that China was imminently due to overtake the USA economically also look rather silly. The country’s banks and property market are in a parlous state and the economy does not look as strong as it once was. Politically, the crushing of dissent in Hong Kong, their actions in the South China Sea and bullying actions around Taiwan have forced countries to reappraise their approach. The mass abuse of almost an entire nation and the destruction of religious buildings hardly adds to their reputation.

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