China: Ethnic Groups

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered at on 15 March 2019.

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Photo of Naseem Shah Naseem Shah Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations his Department has received on the welfare of Uigher Muslims being held in internment camps in China.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and the Chinese Government’s deepening crackdown; including credible reports that over 1 million Uyghur Muslims have been held in re-education camps, and reports of widespread surveillance and restrictions targeted at ethnic minorities. Visits to Xinjiang by diplomats from the British Embassy in Beijing have corroborated much of this open source reporting.

Ministers and senior officials have been raising our concerns directly with the Chinese authorities for some time, and will continue to do so. At the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council which ran from February to March 2019, Lord Ahmad raised our concerns about Xinjiang during his opening address (on 25 February). The UK also raised concerns about Xinjiang during our item 4 statement on 12 March, and we co-sponsored a side event on “Protecting the fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang” on 13 March.

I raised our concerns about Xinjiang with Vice Minister Guo Yezhou during my visit to China on 22 July 2018. The Foreign Secretary also raised our concerns about the region with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to China on 30 July 2018.

During China’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council on 6 November 2018, the UK made a statement which described our concerns about the treatment of ethnic minorities in China, including Uyghurs.

Following the Universal Periodic Review, Lord Ahmad issued a statement where he said: “I am very concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, including the re-education camps and the widespread surveillance and restrictions targeted at ethnic minorities, particularly the Uyghurs. The UK and many of our international partners have made clear during China’s UPR that this is a priority issue. We recommended that China should implement CERD recommendations in Xinjiang and allow the UN to monitor implementation.”

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