By James Moules
MORE than 100,000 people have signed a petition urging the UK government to place sanctions on China for its treatment of the Uyghur population.
Numerous reports over the past few years have pointed to the mass persecution and oppression of the Uyghur people – China’s Muslim minority population that mostly resides in Xinjiang province – by the Chinese Communist Party.
One such example is some drone footage that has been widely shared recently. It appears to show Uyghurs blindfolded and being forced onto trains by Chinese officials.
In response, a petition was launched in the UK calling on the government to enact sanctions against China.
The petition reads: “The UK Government plans to introduce “Magnitsky law”, a law which targets people who commit gross human rights violations. Through this law or alternative means, this petition urges the UK Government to impose sanctions on China for their human rights violations on the Uyghur people.”
Now that the petition has passed the 100,000 signature milestone, it must be considered for debate in parliament.
Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that there are “gross, egregious human rights abuses” in China and described the reports of Uyghur persecution as “deeply, deeply troubling.”
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, who also appeared on the show, unambiguously endorsed sanctions.
She said: “One very quick and simple thing that the UK government could and should be doing is to impose sanctions on Chinese officials who are involved in persecuting the Uyghur, and they could do that tomorrow.”
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has also called for sanctions.
This development comes at a time when UK-China relations are becoming increasingly strained.
Earlier this month, the UK government announced that it would remove equipment from Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network – a move that provoked a sour response from China.
Redaction Politics spoke to Andreas Fulda, senior fellow at the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute, who said he believes western nations should look to constrain the influence of an increasingly assertive China.
He said: “In 2020 it has become clear that mainland China’s military and political power has increased on the back of an expanding economy.
“When Xi Jinping talks about China’s national rejuvenation this is worrisome because the underlying tenets are a radical revisionist and expansionist foreign policy.
“This is evident from the increasingly aggressive posture in the South China Sea and the military threats against Taiwan.
“But such militancy is not limited to mainland China’s immediate neighbours. General Secretary Xi Jinping is a Stalinist who presides over a Leninist party-state using Maoist tactics.”
Dr Fulda added that this ideology can be most clearly observed in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Over the past half-decade, numerous reports have circulated concerning the mass incarceration of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang in internment camps.
Organisations including Amnesty International have estimated that around one million Uyghurs have been held against their will in these facilities.
China has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
But Uyghurs exiled from Xinjiang are now calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese officials for crimes against humanity and genocide.
Explaining his view that western nations should pursue a policy of China constrainment, Dr Fulda told Redaction Politics: “In the past we had two schools of thought: those arguing for what I consider naive and unconditional China engagement and another group of more hawkish people who are arguing for China containment.
“In my view neither of these one-sided and highly reductionist approaches to China are suitable.
“Instead Western nations should embrace China constrainment.
“Such constrainment is more than containment with an added s and r. China constrainment helps governments to go beyond the one-sided and reductionist engagement and containment positions.
“In terms of foreign and security policy it means incentives for good behaviour, deterrence of bad behaviour, and punishment when deterrence fails.”
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