Earlier this year China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, was forced to deny reports that the country was attempting to reduce the Uighur population through forced sterilisation, insisting it was not ‘Government policy.’
Experts estimate that more than one million Uighurs and other minorities have been rounded up into a network of internment camps in total.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs at Westminster today that evidence of abuses in Xinjiang was being reviewed to see whether it amounted to genocide.
He told the Foreign Affairs Committee: ‘I have made clear that there is evidence of serious and egregious human rights violations, gross human rights violations.’
Dominic Raab has refused to rule out a British boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, amid concerns over ‘gross human rights violations,’ against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region
But to be classed as genocide, Mr Raab, a former war crimes lawyer, said it had to be proved that the deliberate intention was the destruction of a minority group.
‘Certainly, I think the more that we see of that evidence, and I think the more the international community addresses its mind to it, the more I think we do need to look very carefully at what action we take,’ Mr Raab said.
‘I think the concerns of what’s happening to the Uighurs – the detention, the mistreatment, the forced sterilisation – is something that we can’t just turn away from.’
When asked if the Government would encourage Prince William to attend the Games, Mr Raab said it would depend on ‘whatever further decisions we come to’
MPs have also raised concern over a crackdown on security in Hong Kong which saw scenes of violence between police and protesters
Asked by Tory MP Alicia Kearns whether a boycott of the 2022 games would send a strong signal to the Beijing government, Mr Raab said: ‘Generally speaking, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics. But there comes a point where that may not be possible.
‘I would say let’s gather the evidence, let’s work with our international partners, let’s consider in the round what further action we need to take.’
Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat asked whether the Government would be encouraging the Duke of Cambridge to attend the 2022 games.
Mr Raab replied: ‘That would be a corollary of the wider process of evaluating the evidence and working with our international partners and whatever further decisions we come to.’
Last month the Australian Strategic Policy Institute identified over 380 sites in the restive north-western province of Xinjiang which are being used to detain hundreds of thousands of Western China’s Uighur population.
Among the most disturbing aspects of the vast prison network is that factories are located alongside the camps, suggesting detainees are being used as forced labour.
China is still preparing for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, with construction underway on its National Speed Skating Oval (above). Today the Chinese Embassy said issues relating to Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong have ‘nothing to do with human rights’
‘Available evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees in Xinjiang’s vast re-education network are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities, including newly built or expanded prisons, or sent to walled factory compounds for forced labour assignments,’ ASPI states in its Xinjiang Data Project.
The Chinese Embassy in the UK tweeted: ‘Issues related to Xinjiang, Tibet, & Hong Kong are China’s internal affairs and have nothing to do with human rights.
‘Some Western countries should discard their ideological prejudice and stop abusing the UN platform and provoking confrontation.’