China’s Policy on its Uyghur Population

Kieran Mullan Excerpts
Monday 12th October 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Kieran Mullan Portrait Dr Kieran Mullan (Crewe and Nantwich) (Con)
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As right hon. and hon. Members have described, what is happening to the Uyghur people in Xinjiang is absolutely abhorrent and cannot be ignored. The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 give us a means

“to deter, and provide accountability for,”

the kinds of activities that China is carrying out. The regulations say that people have the right

“not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,”

and that they have the right

“to be free from slavery, not to be held in servitude or required to perform forced or compulsory labour”.

Given the clear abuses being carried out by China against the Uyghurs, which have been described by right hon. and hon. Members, I urge Ministers to consider how the regulations can be used to help bring an end to this situation. The Magnitsky-style sanctions would honour the request of the petition and show the UK’s commitment to protecting global human rights.

Of course, we MPs and the Government are facing an enormous challenge right now, and many of our constituents expect us to be focused on that challenge. I wanted to attend the debate and speak briefly, because history is watching us. What is happening in Xinjiang is of historic significance. We have seen the power of the modern state wielded against its own people before, with the result being millions killed in factories of death. People who hesitate to make that comparison should remember that that stain on human history began with the erosion of rights, mass detention and forced labour. We are now seeing the power of the modern state supercharged in the digital age and the age of surveillance.

We must be honest with ourselves: there are no simple solutions to what we are discussing, and we are not in a position to rescue the situation alone, just as we were not able to do so in world war two. We will need to work with others. Even then, the task is incredibly daunting. However, I want China to know that we are watching—this House is watching, and the world is watching. History has shown us that simply disapproving from afar is not enough to stop regimes of this nature. We must find further ways to act. We must stand up, and we must be counted.