Accused for long by the world of committing massive, systematic, grave and flagrant violations of human rights, pressure is finally building up on China from all sides to mend ways or face drastic consequences, both economically and militarily.
In the last 48 hours, Britain has joined the list of several nations issuing a fresh travel advisory and warning its nationals of risk of arbitrary detention in China; the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has blocked Chinese goods produced with state-sponsored forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region; the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency has issued a stern message to Beijing after driving off a Chinese coast guard vessel out of its exclusive economic zone in South China Sea; dozens of activist groups have written jointly to the United Nations about that crimes against humanity and the genocide happening against the Uyghurs in China and the European Union leaders told Chinese President Xi Jinping clearly that he needs to respect the minorities and step back from a crackdown in Hong Kong.
All this, of course, does not count in the huge condemnation the Xi Jinping regime has received from all corners of the globe for China’s intelligence service using leaked data of over 2.4 million people.
An open letter by 22 genocide and atrocity prevention organizations from five countries and 16 senior prevention experts issued today has called on governments to appoint a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the abuses, crimes against humanity and genocide taking place against Uyghurs.
“Under the guise of curbing religious and political extremism, the Chinese government has intensified widespread and systematic policies to repress Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples on the basis of their religious and ethnic identities. The atrocities include arbitrary detention of between 1 and 1.8 million people in internment camps, a widespread program of political indoctrination, enforced disappearances, destruction of cultural sites, forced labor, disproportionate rates of prison incarceration, and coercive birth prevention campaigns and policies,” the letter said.
Omer Kanat, the Executive Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), one of the groups which signed the letter, said that the international community must uphold its responsibility to take action through diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, irrespective of label that might be applied.
“It’s particularly meaningful that such a significant group of experts have expressed their collective alarm about atrocity crimes in East Turkistan. These measures meet the threshold of acts constitutive of genocide, core international crimes under the Genocide Convention,” he said.
The organizations are particularly concerned with the recent reports which have revealed the Chinese government policies aiming at reducing birth rates among Uyghurs including involuntary abortions and sterilizations. It has been revealed that in 2018, 80 per cent of all The Intrauterine Device (IUD) placements in China were performed on women in the Uyghur Region, despite the region making up only about 1.8 percent of China’s total population.
As the signatories were drafting the letter, the Trump administration announced fresh measures to build further pressure on China over the treatment and detention of Muslims in Xinjiang.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued five Withhold Release Orders (WRO) early Tuesday on products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as they are produced with state-sponsored forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government is engaged in systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities.
It includes hair products, apparel, cotton and computer parts made, produced, manufactured in the region.
“By taking this action, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is combating illegal and inhumane forced labor, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States. When China attempts to import these goods into our supply chains, it also disadvantages American workers and businesses,” said Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
The European Union (EU) is trying its bit too by urging China to uphold the rules-based international order. China’s President Xi Jinping, who attended Monday’s EU-China leaders’ meeting via video conference, was told by EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen what the world expects from him and his country.
“The national security law for Hong Kong continues to raise grave concerns. The EU and our Member States have responded with one clear voice. Democratic voices in Hong Kong should be heard, rights protected, and autonomy preserved. We called on China to keep their promises to the people of Hong Kong and the international community. We reiterated our concerns over China’s treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and the treatment of human rights defenders and journalists. We asked for access for independent observers to Xinjiang and we called for the release of the arbitrarily detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and two Canadian citizens,” said Michel after the meeting.
It would be foolhardy to expect China taking the criticism sportingly. Xi politely told EU leaders to “handle their own things” effectively telling them to mind their own business.
“Chinese people will not accept ‘an instructor’ on human rights and oppose ‘double standards’, Xinhua, the Chinese state-run press agency, reported Xi as saying during the meeting.
Well, some people, rather regimes, never change!