Dominic Raab, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, walks through Downing Street on September 3, 2019 in London, England.
Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images
LONDON – The UK has introduced new measures to eliminate the alleged presence of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region from UK supply chains.
China is accused of extrajudicially detaining more than one million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in political re-education camps in the Northwest Autonomous Region, as well as invasive surveillance, restrictions on Uyghur culture and the use of forced labor.
China strongly denies these claims, saying the centers aim to combat extremism and encourage the development of professional skills.
Companies with annual sales of over £ 36million ($ 49.2million) that fail to perform adequate due diligence to ensure their supply chains are free from forced labor by under the Modern Slavery Act, will now be subject to fines, said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
“We need to make sure that British companies are not part of the supply chains that lead to the gates of the internment camps in Xinjiang, and ensure that the proceeds of the human rights abuses that take place in these camps don’t end up on the shelves of the supermarkets we buy here at home, week after week, ”Raab said.
The government will also launch an urgent review of export controls to prevent exports that could contribute to human rights violations, issue new guidelines to companies operating in the region, and extend the Modern Slavery Act to the United States. public sector, excluding any company which would have forced the labor links of the public markets.
Raab said the evidence is now “far reaching” and “paints a truly heartbreaking picture”, accusing China of running “internment camps, arbitrary detentions, political re-education, forced labor, torture and forced sterilization, all on an industrial scale “.
“It is truly horrible – the barbarism that we hoped has been lost in another era practiced today as we speak in one of the core members of the international community,” he added.
Raab cited first-hand testimonies from diplomats and escaped victims, satellite images showing factories in internment camps and the destruction of mosques, and third-party reports from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. , Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London did not immediately respond to TBEN’s request for comment.
Raab stressed that China’s refusal to allow access to a UN human rights commissioner or other credible outside authority was not reconcilable with these claims.
“China cannot simply deny all access to these trusted third-party bodies that could verify the facts, and at the same time maintain a credible position of denial,” he added.
A protester outside the White House urges the United States to take action to end the oppression of Uyghurs and other Turkish peoples August 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Raab’s measures failed to sanction individual Chinese officials for their involvement in the alleged atrocities, and Labor shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy claimed her counterpart had not gone far enough, comparing Raab’s actions to “tinker around the edges”.
The presence of forced labor in international supply chains has been the target of a number of major governments in recent years. In late 2020, several US companies came under fire for allegedly lobbying to weaken a bipartisan bill banning imports from Xinjiang.
“Some American politicians have concocted disinformation about so-called ‘forced labor’ in order to restrict and oppress the parties and companies concerned in China and to contain the development of China,” the spokeswoman for the Chinese government told TBEN. Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, in December.
“All ethnic groups in Xinjiang choose their profession according to their own will and sign” employment contracts “of their own accord according to the Equality Basis Law.”