WEEKLY BRIEF, 22 JANUARY 2021

NEWS

U.S. Declares China’s Actions Against Uighurs Constitute “Genocide”
The WUC has welcomed the decision of the former U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, at his last day in office to determine China’s repression of the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples as both “crimes against humanity” and “genocide’’. This makes it the first government to designate the crimes in East Turkistan as genocide. The Secretary of State of the new Biden Administration, Antony Blinken, has said he agrees with the determination by the outgoing Secretary of State that China’s actions against Uyghurs constitute genocide. As designating China’s actions as genocide entails obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent and punish the crime, the Biden administration must now take concrete action to that end together with U.S. allies.

Read More →

Turkey-based Relatives of Uyghur Detainees Pause Protests After Chinese Consulate Accepts Demands

Radio Free Asia, 21 January 2021

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia. Photo RFA.

A group of Turkey-based Uyghurs have suspended daily protests in front of China’s consulate in Istanbul after consular officials agreed to accept documentation of their family members held in internment camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) at the behest of the mayor, group members said.

Read More →

U.S. China Policy Must Confront the Genocide in Xinjiang First

Foreign Policy, 21 January 2021

Below is an article published by Foreign Policy. Photo Burst the Bubble.

Ekpar Asat is a Uighur philanthropist and cutting-edge entrepreneur who became a household name among Uighurs after establishing and successfully running a multifaceted media platform for the community in western China. He is also the brother of one of the authors of this article, who knows firsthand his compassion and determination. He worked tirelessly to build bridges between all the ethnic groups in the region and the local government. The Xinjiang government itself extolled him as a bright star in the tech world and a positive force for humanity. Soon, his reputation landed him international recognition as a successful innovative entrepreneur and peacebuilder.

Read More →

The Guardian view on Xinjiang and crimes against humanity: speaking and acting

The Guardian, 19 January 2021

Below is an article published by The Guardian. Photo Reuters

It took a long time for leaders to notice, longer to condemn, and longer still to act. It took time for researchers to amass evidence of China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang – from mass detention to forced sterilisation – given the intense security and secrecy in the north-west region. Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, believed to have held about a million Turkic Muslims, before describing them as educational centres to tackle extremism. But the hesitation by other governments also reflected the anxiety to maintain relations with the world’s second-largest economy.

The US, on Donald Trump’s final day in office, became the first country to declare that China is committing genocide. The administration has already targeted officials and issued a ban on any cotton or tomato products from the region. On Tuesday, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, described a “systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state … forced assimilation and eventual erasure”. A more cautious report from a bipartisan US Congressional commission said that China had committed crimes against humanity and “possibly” genocide.

Mr Pompeo’s statement is a parting shot, made with some cynicism. (Not all criticism of human rights abuses, however merited, is motivated solely by human rights concerns; Mr Trump reportedly told Xi Jinping that the camps were “exactly the right thing to do”.) But the announcement is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Joe Biden’s campaign called it genocide months ago. While Mr Trump broke with the previous approach to China, the US has undergone a bipartisan shift, forged primarily by Beijing’s actions – not only in Xinjiang but also in Hong Kong, its handling of the pandemic and in international relations more broadly.

The same change is evident in the UK, as evidenced by the sizeable Conservative rebellion in parliament on Tuesday, in which an amendment to the trade bill was narrowly defeated by 319 to 308. The genocide amendment originated in the Lords and was backed by all opposition parties, as well as a broad coalition outside parliament, including the Muslim Council of Britain and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. It proposes that the UK high courts could determine whether genocide is taking place, potentially leading to the revocation of trade deals. The Foreign Office argues that genocide determinations are complex matters better made by international institutions – knowing full well that in reality they will not consider them in this case, and that this is not a requirement of the Genocide Convention. The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, struck a far stronger tone than before when he spoke recently of “torture and inhumane and degrading treatment … on an industrial scale” in Xinjiang. But the remedies he put forward – requiring firms to do better on due diligence – were feeble.

A genocide finding is an extremely high bar: it is unclear whether a court would agree that Chinese actions passed it. It could not address Britain’s continuing sale of arms to Saudi Arabia despite its grotesque record, nor the recent agreement with Egypt, said by campaigners to be seeing its worst human rights crisis for decades.

China – whose spokespeople have described “the so-called ‘genocide’” as “a rumour deliberately started by some anti-China forces and a farce to discredit China” – has shown itself increasingly impervious to international opinion.

But at the very least, it must be ensured that western businesses do not profit from abuses such as forced labour. The willingness to say that human rights matter, and not only when it is convenient for the UK to do so, is important. MEPs too have promised to focus on them in their scrutiny of the new EU-China investment treaty, although Anglophone countries are taking a stronger stance towards Beijing in general. The political ground internationally is shifting. But measures can only hope to have an impact if like-minded nations act together and support each other.

Read More →

U.S. secretary of state nominee Blinken sees strong foundation for bipartisan China policy

Reuters, 19 January 2021

Below is an article published by Reuters. Photo Reuters.

China denies U.S. accusations of human rights violations.

Asked how he would respond in his first 30 days as secretary of state, Blinken replied:

Read More →

UK free to make trade deals with genocidal regimes after Commons vote

The Guardian, 19 January 2021

Below is an article published by The Guardian. Photo Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

The government has narrowly defeated a move requiring the government to reconsider any trade deal with a country found by the high court to be committing genocide.

Read More →

The UK must act now to save Uighur lives from ethnic cleansing

The Times, 19 January 2021

Below is an article by WUC UK Director Rahima Mahmut, published by The Times.

In September 2000, I left my beloved homeland and my entire family, including my five-year-old son, behind and came to the UK; my son joined me two years later. After witnessing first-hand the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations against my people in 1997, I felt compelled to leave.

Read More →

US Solar Companies Rely On Materials From Xinjiang, Where Forced Labor Is Rampant

BuzzFeed.News, 14 January 2020

Below is an article published by BuzzFeed.News. Photo Reuters.

Solar power has built a reputation as a virtuous industry, saving the planet by providing clean energy. But the industry has a dirty underbelly: It relies heavily on Xinjiang — a region in China that has become synonymous with forced labor for Muslim minorities — for key components.

Read More →