China: Islam

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 15th May 2019.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Treasury)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations his Department has made to the Chinese Government on the demolition of Islamic religious sites in Xinjiang in China.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

We are aware of, and concerned by, reports of mosques, shrines, and other places of worship in Xinjiang being targeted by Chinese authorities. While we do not have an accurate measure on what proportion of mosques are being destroyed, available evidence, including that recently presented in the Guardian newspaper following a joint Guardian/Bellingcat investigation, suggests that it is significant. British diplomats in China visit Xinjiang every few months in order to see at first-hand the situation there. Their observations have supported much of the recent open source reporting about the restrictions targeted at specific ethnic and religious groups.

We regularly raise our serious concerns about the situation in Xinjiang with the Chinese authorities at senior levels, and will continue to do so. At the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Lord Ahmad, raised our concerns during his opening address on 25 February. The UK also spoke about Xinjiang during our “Item 4” national statement on 12 March, and co-sponsored and spoke at a side event on Xinjiang, which helped to raise awareness of the situation among the international community. The Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, raised our concerns about Xinjiang with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his last visit to China in July 2018. I, also raised our concerns with Vice Minister Guo Yezhou during his visit to China on 22 July 2018. Our Embassy in Beijing also regularly raises our concerns with the Chinese authorities.

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