The decade's most triggering comedy
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of inflicting human rights abuses against ethnic minorities as the British government ramps up its anti-China rhetoric.
Raab’s strong remarks came in a Sunday interview with the BBC. Days earlier, the British government announced that it was severing ties with the Chinese state-owned telecoms giant Huawei, which the U.K. hired in January to help build the country’s 5G infrastructure.
“Whatever the legal label, it is clear that gross, egregious human rights abuses are going on,” Raab said. “It is deeply, deeply troubling and the reports on the human aspect of this – from forced sterilization to the education camps – are reminiscent of something we have not seen for a very long time.”
“We want a positive relationship with China, but we can’t see behavior like that and not call it out,” he added.
A growing movement in the U.K. is pushing the government to sanction Chinese officials involved in the persecution of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region. A petition calling for sanctions has amassed 100,000 signatures and hit the threshold to force a debate on the potential action in Parliament.
The Chinese ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming, denied that China is systemically oppressing Uyghurs in a Sunday interview on BBC. When confronted with drone footage of hundreds of Uyghur prisoners being loaded on trains, Xiaoming asserted that Western intelligence agencies were lying about human rights abuses in China.
“The so-called western intelligence, keeping up make this false accusation against China. They say, ‘One million of Uyghur has been persecuted.’ You know how big, how many population Xinjiang has? It’s at just about – forty years ago it’s at 4-5 million, now it’s 11 million people. And people say, you know, we impose, we have an ethnic cleansing, but the population has doubled in the forty years,” the ambassador said.
Population growth rates in Uyghur-majority areas of Xinjiang have declined as much as 84% between 2015 and 2018, according to Chinese government statistics released in a recent report from The Jamestown Foundation. Experts have said the drastic reduction is due to a “creeping genocide” of forced sterility and abortions by the Chinese government on Uyghur populations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the British government’s relationship with China has grown increasingly antagonistic in the months following the outbreak of the coronavirus. The pandemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and spread globally while the Chinese government hid the severity of the outbreak from the international community.
Over 45,000 deaths in the United Kingdom are attributed to the virus and nearly 300,000 people have tested positive. The British government is still struggling to reopen the nation’s economy amid the pandemic. Pubs and restaurants were finally allowed to reopen in early July after the government ordered their doors closed in March.
In late January and against the advice of the United States, Johnson agreed to work with Huawei to help build the United Kingdom’s 5G infrastructure. President Trump’s administration had warned Johnson that using equipment from the Chinese telecoms giant could jeopardize U.K. information security, and the U.S. State Department threatened to stop sharing classified information with the British government if it used Huawei tech.
In March, reports suggested that Johnson had begun to “rethink” Britain’s relationship with the Chinese government because of the pandemic and China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, a former British territory. The British government announced last week that the Huawei equipment would be banned from the U.K.’s 5G infrastructure.