Uyghur Tribunal: London

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 14th June 2021.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 3:43 pm, 14th June 2021

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I disagree on a large part of his thesis that this Government have taken no action. This Government led the first two statements on Xinjiang at the UN. We have used our diplomatic network to raise the issue up the international agenda. We will continue to work with our partners across the world to build an international caucus of those willing to speak out against these human rights violations, and we have seen that caucus raised from 23 countries to 39. We will increase the pressure on China to change its behaviour.

We have backed up our international action with robust domestic measures: on 22 March, under the UK’s global human rights sanctions regime, we imposed asset freezes and travel bans on four senior Chinese Government officials and an asset freeze on one entity. On 12 January, the Foreign Secretary announced measures to help to ensure that businesses are not complicit in violations or abuses in Xinjiang. Of course, we are continuously keeping our sanctions regime under review.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the intimidation of the Uyghur diaspora. We are absolutely aware of this. We are very concerned about members of the Uyghur diaspora, including in the UK, being harassed by the Chinese authorities. This is an effort to intimidate them into silence, force them to return to China or co-opt them into providing information on other Uyghurs. This activity is unacceptable. We have raised our concerns directly with the Chinese embassy in London.

In my answer to my right hon. Friend Sir Iain Duncan Smith, I mentioned that we are not in a position to provide evidence, testimony or official support to the tribunal, but we have engaged: I have engaged personally with Sir Geoffrey Nice on this measure, and I understand that my noble Friend the Minister for human rights in the other place has spoken with him on no fewer than four occasions. We are following the tribunal’s work closely, and clearly we will be studying any resulting report.