PRESS RELEASE: WUC Urges UK Prime Minister May to Substantively Raise Human Rights During China Visit
In anticipation of UK Prime Minister ’s first official visit to China, the World Uyghur Congress calls on her government to stand firm on the UK’s outward expression of values like human rights and democracy in its foreign policy.
Prime Minister May will pay an official visit to China From January 31 to February 2 and will co-host the first bilateral annual prime ministerial meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
With Brexit looming, the British government is entering a period of uncertainty, and the strategic importance of the partnership between the two countries remains significant. If the UK government wishes to be taken as a reliable partner following this decision, it is in their best interest to live up to professed values and to not ride roughshod over issues of human rights.
If Britain does not secure access to the EU’s single market, strong incentives may draw May to strike trade deals with other states, including China. The UK must be diligent in ensuring that the Chinese government does not take advantage of such a situation.
As expressed by the UK government’s own policy on human rights in bilateral relations: “We’ll stand up for human rights by working with international bodies and priority countries, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because a safer, more prosperous world is in the UK’s national interest.”
East Turkestan saw an unprecedented crackdown in the region in 2017 with the introduction of legislation targeting the Uyghur people. Surveillance in the region has also reached an high point with virtually no real freedom of movement available for Uyghurs, particularly within and between cities. In addition to Uyghurs being detained for quotidian religious practice or cultural expression, hundreds of thousands have been sent to “re-education” camps throughout the region in an effort to re-make all Uyghur residents in the image of the Communist Party.
We therefore call on PM Theresa May to ensure that any conversation regarding trade, investment, or cooperation between the two countries is understood more broadly within the context of dire human rights conditions faced by the Uyghur population in China.