Criticism of China’s actions in Xinjiang grows at United Nations

(Bloomberg) – A group of 43 countries on Thursday denounced China’s human rights record at the United Nations, criticizing Beijing for its detention of Uyghurs in the western Xinjiang region.

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While the predominantly Western group of nations criticizes China every year in the United Nations General Assembly’s human rights committee, that rebuke has been joined for the first time this year by nations like Turkey, Eswatini and Liberia. New additions to last year’s group, which included 39 countries, help push back against Chinese claims that the reprimand is part of a Western effort to prevent China from recovering.

“We have seen a growing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations, including reports documenting acts of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence and separation forced children, ”said the French ambassador. Nicolas de Rivière said on behalf of the group. “Widespread surveillance continues to disproportionately target Uyghurs and members of other minorities.”

Zhang Jun, Chinese ambassador to the UN, called the criticism unfounded and lambasted the group for seeking to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

The international community has pressured China for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, where the UN estimates that hundreds of thousands of members of the ethnic minority have been held in “re-education camps”. Beijing defended the camps as “vocational education centers” intended to “purge ideological diseases,” including terrorism and religious extremism.

Who are the Uyghurs and why is China locking them up? : QuickTake

The group further called on China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unimpeded access to Xinjiang for independent observers,” including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The group also called on countries not to return asylum seekers from Xinjiang in light of the “human rights situation” there.

Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch, said the UN statement is important because “for the first time, all UN regional groups have joined in calling for an end to violations. in Xinjiang and to UN investigators for immediate access. UN member states should establish an international commission of inquiry to formally investigate alleged crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and recommend ways to hold those responsible to account. “

The UN move comes after U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday questioned U.S. customs and border protection over the enforcement of the ban on cotton imports from China’s Xinjiang region, saying the next season of The National Basketball Association is raising concerns about endorsement deals some athletes have with Chinese sportswear companies.

The Biden administration has upheld a statement made on the last full day of the Trump administration that China was committing “genocide” in Xinjiang, a move denounced by officials in Beijing.

In May, Europe suspended ratification of an investment pact with China, after the two sides traded tit for tat sanctions against Xinjiang. The European Parliament subsequently adopted a resolution urging a boycott of next year’s Olympic Winter Games in Beijing over the issue.

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