CAUTIOUS WEST GIVES FREE PASS TO CHINA ON UYGHUR REPRESSION
Human rights and trade are a tricky combination, Rosalind Mathieson wrote in an analysis for Bloomberg, and China continues to act as it sees fit in Xinjiang, where it has systematically repressed the Uyghurs.
China faces international condemnation for its treatment of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, where rights organizations and the United Nations have documented evidence that Uyghurs are locked up in camps, forcibly sterilized, deprived of their religious rights, prevented from traveling and holding certain jobs. The US calls it genocide.
Beijing insists Uyghurs have just as many freedoms as anyone else in China. It says its “training centers” are meant to prevent separatism and extremism. Foreign Minister Wang Yi says locals in Xinjiang lead “safe and happy lives.” Tensions over Xinjiang are bleeding into broader ties.
China and the UK have taken each other’s state broadcasters off the air. The US has sanctioned some Chinese companies it says profit from exploited labor, and banned imports of cotton products and tomatoes from the region.
Even so, governments are cautious. Some parliaments have debated calling the treatment of Uyghurs genocide, but the moves are generally initiated by the opposition and non-binding.
In Canada yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet abstained from a vote on a genocide motion.
Germany is mulling legislation aimed at combating human rights abuses in supply chains, but progress is slow. Industry groups in turn argue the complexity and length of supply chains means it’s unreasonable they be held to account.
In any case, it’s hard to avoid the world’s second-biggest economy entirely.
China regained its position as India’s top trade partner in 2020, as New Delhi’s reliance on imported equipment outweighed its efforts to curb commerce with Beijing over a border conflict.
Governments may be calling out China on human rights but they’re wary of triggering a full trade spat. In the meantime, Beijing continues to act as it sees fit on Xinjiang.