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How long will China be allowed to undermine the international rules-based order?

5 min read

It’s typically agreed among nations that sanctions are applied with evidence to individuals or countries who commit heinous crimes and break international or national laws. That is the international consensus.

It’s typically agreed among nations that sanctions are applied with evidence to individuals or countries who commit heinous crimes and break international or national laws. That is the international consensus.

So when China issued sanctions on Western individuals who raised gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang without supplying evidence, they once again showed flagrant disregard for international norms. But in sanctioning five MPs, including myself, they forgot one thing; an attack on any one of us, in our role as Members of Parliament, is an attack on all of us – and the House of Parliament itself.

Counter to their plans to silence and isolate us, the sanctions have given us a bigger platform and provided a wakeup call across Western Democracies, that we need to take a stand. The CCP has no desire to work within our hard-won laws, freedoms and basic concept of human rights. Time is running out for the Uyghur and this Thursday, I will lead the House on finally having its say about the alleged genocide occurring in Xinjiang, and we can finally start, with our allies, to hold the CCP to account.

So what’s happening in Xinjiang? Dozens of survivors have escaped the region and bravely given their witness testimonies; they describe mass incarceration, systematic rape, separation of children from their families, mass sterilisation, desecration of Islamic holy sites and deliberate attempts to destroy their culture. We have satellite imagery of ‘re-education camps’ being constructed, and leaked video footage of Uyghurs being moved throughout beyond the region, decked out in prison clothing.

This is not just a grave human rights nightmare. It is a direct challenge to the rules-based order and threatens to undermine international law on an unparalleled scale.

The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) was one of the charter members of the United Nations. In 1983, the PRC ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It sits as a permanent member on the UN Security Council, the only forum for human rights dialogue among governments.

It is also the means for which genocide can be recognised at an international level – the UN Security Council refers cases of the allegation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for examination.

As such, China has a crucial set of responsibilities, and a ratified need to hold itself to the high UN international standard.

Instead, dictators around the world watch as President Xi Jinping commits alleged genocide against his own people, with the power to veto requests to investigate it at the UN Security Council, and bullies smaller UN members into looking the other way. They learn from the CCPs flagrant breaches of international maritime law in the South China Sea. They take notes from its deliberate attempts to undermine international bodies, such as stage managing the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) investigation into the source of Covid-19. And they observe as the CCP tries to dilute the UN’s ability to classify genocide. 

And what does the United Nations do? Nothing. It’s frozen in a state of paralysis. The body is totally unfit to do its job and investigate the situation in Xinjiang as genocide as China and Russia both hold the ability to veto any action getting to the ICC. By allowing President Xi to get away with this blatant abuse of human rights, and betrayal of his country’s international obligations, we empower others to commit similar atrocities and critically undermine international law.

Xinjiang is now the world’s largest open air prison, a CCP petri-dish for testing new technologies to monitor, analyse and crush Uyghur culture in real time. As my recent Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report found, the abuse taking place in the region have direct link to us in the UK. Products stained with genocide end up on our shelves, through the complex supply chains many companies have in Xinjiang. UK companies cant even adhere to our slave labour rules as no one can get into Xinjiang to do basic slave labour checks. Its one rule for us and the rest of the world and whole new set of standards for China, set up by the CCP for the CCP.

When this country voted for Brexit, we voted for sovereignty. To outsource our legal framework to an institution frozen by a bullying member is exactly the opposite of what Global Britain ought to be. We do not want China setting the new international legal standards, undermine our laws and we cannot continue to let CCP get away with ignoring the rules-based order it signed up to defend. We must work with our allies, using the G7 and COP26 to come up with a partnership and new mechanisms to stand up to CCP, and when UN fails we need to step in and end the nightmare in Xinjiang. We can start doing that on Thursday, when the House gives its view on the CCP and its violations against the Uyghur.


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