Ever so on the defensive, China has binned as “unwarranted” the robust condemnation by the House of Commons ~ for the first time ~ that “state genocide’ is taking place against Uighurs and others in north-west China. More than a million people are estimated to have been detained at camps in the Xinjiang region. The motion, approved by MPs, does not compel Britain to take action, but arguably points to the growing discontent with the Chinese government in Parliament.
The British legislature has been exceptionally forthright, when contrasted with the generally indifferent response in a bevy of other democracies. Without dwelling on specifics, China has said in its response that the UK should “immediately right its wrong moves”.
The Tory leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, heralded the vote as “a historic moment”, bringing the UK Parliament in line with Holland, Canada and the United States. Markedly, Sir Iain was one of the five British parliamentarians sanctioned by China for spreading what it calls “lies and disinformation”. Decidedly more explicit was Nus Ghani ~ another MP to be targeted by China ~ who defined genocide as a (state-sponsored) praxis to “destroy in whole or in part” a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
“All five criteria of genocide are evident in Xinjiang,” she said. The detainees were subject to “brutal torture methods, including beatings with metal prods, electric shocks and whips”. Women in the Uighur region, she alleged, were being fitted with birth control devices, adding: “The Handmaid’s Tale is a fairy tale compared to the reproductive rights of Uyghur women.” This abuse is manifest in the Chinese government’s own data; in 2014, over 200,000 birth control devices were inserted in women in Xinjiang.
By 2018, this had increased by 60 per cent, she said. The comity of nations is unlikely to buy the argument advanced by the Chinese embassy in the UK ~ “The unwarranted accusation by British MPs that there is ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is the most preposterous lie of the century, an outrageous insult and affront to the Chinese people, and a gross breach of international law and the basic norms governing international relations.
China strongly opposes the UK’s blatant interference in China’s internal affairs.” Strong words that can scarcely overshadow the core issue, specifically man’s inhumanity to man, the latter representing a religious minority. It is by all accounts a hideous cocktail that has been brewed in the People’s Republic of China.
At another remove of the political spectrum, the Labour party’s shadow Foreign Office minister, Stephen Kinnock, said the party supported the motion arguing that “genocide can never be met with indifference or inaction”. The world must give it to the House of Commons that it has internationalised the torment of the Uighurs.