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China: Uighurs

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Chinese counterpart on the treatment and living conditions of the Uighur people in China; and what assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Xinjiang.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We have particularly serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang including the extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in “political re-education camps”, systematic restrictions on Uyghur culture and the practice of Islam, and extensive and invasive surveillance targeting minorities. Reports indicating that forced labour is being used and children are being forcibly separated from their parents add to the growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that Uyghurs and other minorities are facing in Xinjiang.

I have not had recent discussions with my Chinese counterpart on the treatment and living conditions of the Uyghur Muslims in China. We regularly raise our concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang with the Chinese authorities. The British Ambassador to China raised our concerns with Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang on 24 December 2019. We also regularly discuss the situation in Xinjiang with likeminded partners including at the UN. We have issued or joined a number of statements of concern in recent months: on 29 October 2019 at UN Third Committee, the UK read out a joint statement signed by 22 others drawing attention to the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and called on China to uphold its obligations to respect human rights; on 24 September, during the UN General Assembly the Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN and South Africa called on China to allow UN observers immediate and unfettered access to the region; on 17 September 2019, at the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UK again called for UN experts to be granted unfettered access to Xinjiang and raised our concerns on arbitrary detention.

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