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First UK Sanctions Against Chinese Officials Over Uyghur Human Rights Abuses Announced But "Genocide Amendment" Defeated

First UK Sanctions Against Chinese Officials Over Uyghur Human Rights Abuses Announced But 'Genocide Amendment' Defeated
3 min read

The Foreign Secretary has announced the UK will impose sanctions on Chinese officials over "serious" human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

The UK has joined the EU, United States and Canada in imposing sanctions on four Chinese Government officials and a Chinese organisation in response to "appalling" human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

The sanctions, which includes asset freezes and travel bans, came just hours before the Government saw off a Tory rebellion over the Trade Bill which would have forced ministers to justify to Parliament why it had signed trade deals with countries guilty of genocide.

The so-called "Genocide Amendment" put forward by Conservative MP Nus Ghani was supported by a number of senior Tory backbenchers, but was defeated on Monday evening after MPs voted 318 to 300 to reject it.

Those hit by the sanctions include Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which are implicated in the abuse of the Uyghur Muslim population.

Announcing the measures to MPs, Raab said: "The evidence of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang cannot be ignored - including mass detention and surveillance, reports of torture and forced sterilisation.

"Working with our international partners we are imposing targeted sanctions to hold those responsible to account."

He added: "State control in the region is systemic.

"Over a million people have been detained without trial, there are widespread claims of torture and rape in the camps based on first-hand survivor testimony.

"People are detained for having too many children, for praying too much, for having a beard or wearing a headscarf, for having the wrong thoughts.

"I'm sure the whole House will join me in condemning such appalling violations of the most basic human rights."

Raab added: "It's the largest mass detention of an ethnic or religious group since the Second World War and I believe one thing is clear - the international community cannot simply look the other way."

"The international community will not turn a blind eye to such serious and systematic violations of basic human rights and we will act in concert to hold those responsible to account."

But the timing of the announcement was branded "grubby and cynical" by shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy who accused Raab of being "motivated primarily by a desire to protect the government, not the Uyghurs".

She added: "Suddenly, today, the Foreign Secretary has found a newfound sense of urgency about the desperate plight of the Uyghur despite that mounting evidence over several years.

"The truth is is that the timing of this is grubby and cynical. It is designed to send a signal first and foremost not to the Chinese government but to his own backbenches.

"It is motivated primarily by a desire to protect the government not the Uyghur. For all the talk of being a force for good in the world it is only when this government is staring down the barrel of defeat that it finds a moral center."

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